"The Trust is also legally responsible for
payments to Manville, the government and other asbestos companies, their
insurers and distributors. Unfortunately for victims, these claims take
precedence over--and have to be paid before--the victims' claims."
The Manville Corporation and its officers are facing a bright future.
The picture is not so rosy for their hundreds of thousands of victims.
The company which murdered so many of its workers is looking forward to
emerging from bankruptcy as a viable and healthy company at the end of
November. Manville victims who filed suit against the company before August,
1982, will be eligible to receive payments for settlements when the bankruptcy
plan is consummated. The situation is a little more complicated and not
quite so hopeful for victims who had not filed by 1982 or who will be
filing in the future.
Marianna Smith, Executive Director of the Manville Personal Injury Settlement
Trust, explained to White Lung members that the trust hoped to have agreements
on settlements for at least 75% of the 17,000 pre-bankruptcy cases by
November. Settlements have been negotiated for large groups of victims,
whose lawyers allocate settlement amounts to individuals. The Trust sends
auditors out to review allocations to make sure that settlements are made
on the basis of severity of disease and do not show favoritism to certain
Asbestos victims who did not file against Manville by 1982 will have to
present an eight page proof of claim form including medical diagnosis
and history. No x-rays are required unless there is a dispute. Ms. Smith
says it is possible for a victim to file without a lawyer. (The WLA recommends
that the decision to do without legal representation should not be made
without careful consideration of all factors in a case.)
Victims' claims filed after 1982 are to be handled on a "First In,
First Out " (FIFO) basis. The court's FIFO rules are very complicated
and each case must be dealt with individually. For example, one victim's
payment could be delayed at the last moment because another victim or
an insurance company filed a suit. Hardship cases jump to the head of
the FIFO line for payment. As of September only seven had been filed.
The Trust will assume that victims who have already settled with other
manufacturers or who worked in shipyards, insulation or refineries were
exposed to Manville products and have a right of claim against Manville.
It will demand more proof of claim from workers exposed in other situations:
carpenters and construction workers, for example. Ms. Smith feels that
some presumptions set up by the court are too arbitrary and hopes to develop
a system which reduces the burden on the victim.
If the sixty-five thousand lawsuits already settled by the Wellington
Group come in to the Trust, it will take a long time to process and evaluate
them. There is no guarantee that the Trust will have the money to pay
the one hundred to two hundred thousand claims that may be filed over
the coming years. In order to economize, the Trust is offering limited
release for future filings on lung cancer or mesothelioma if a victim
with pleural plaques or asbestosis will settle for less money for the
present. (The WLA recommends that asbestos victims who do not have cancer
should not give up the right to future claims if cancer develops.)
The Trust is divided into departments. The general counsel, under David
Austin, acts as lawyer for the trust in settlement negotiation. The finance
department, under Ted Kleinman, monitors Manville operations closely because
the Trust is the corporation's largest shareholder and will get a share
of Manville profits to pay victims within four years. The largest department,
claims, evaluates cases like the claims department of an insurance company.
Paul Lohr formerly of Aetna Insurance heads this department which is staffed
by people with experience working for other manufacturers, the Wellington
Group and insurance companies.
Ms. Smith explained that the department would not function like a manufacturer
or its insurer. Their job is to "settle cases.... We won't
spend money fighting you," she said. The Trust is also legally responsible
for payments to Manville, the government and other asbestos companies,
their insurers and distributors. Unfortunately for victims, these claims
take precedence over--and have to be paid before--the victims' claims.
At its September meeting, the WLA Board of Directors took a firm stand
against Manville Corporation and other commercial claims taking money
from victims and is working to prevent this. The board also voted
to work to assure that hardship cases and younger victims in the first
stages of disease were not denied their rights. The board will continue
to study Trust activity and will be proposing steps to make sure that
the Trust's resources benefit asbestos victims and not the corporations.
ASBESTOS VICTIMS OR FAMILY MEMBERS WITH PROBLEMS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THEIR
CLAIMS AGAINST MANVILLE AND THE TRUST SHOULD JOIN AND STAY IN TOUCH WITH
Las Compañias Evitan Pagar A las Victimas
Cuando la compañia de asbesto Manville salga de la bancarrota,
las victimas con casos llevados antes de agosto de 1982 seran
pagados primeros. La corte establecio un sistema de "primero
que entre, primero que salga" para arreglar otros casos.
Este sistema es muy complicado. Las otras compañias de asbesto
tambien estan desarrolando sus estrategias para evitar pagar compensacion
justa a sus victimas. Pongase en contacto con la Asociacion del
Pulmon Blanco si Ud. tiene preguntas sobre su caso.
4/16/05: Spectre to Introduce
U.S. Asbestos Bill This Week
5/22/05: Individuals Injured
by Asbestos Exposure Oppose Specter's Trust Fund Legislation
10/16/05: Victim's Organizations
Form Asbestos Victims Coalition in Opposition to Asbestos Trust
11/17/05: White Lung Mourns Jose
12/18/05: Frist Introducing Asbestos
Bill in January
12/04/06: Asbestos Watch Newsletter:
Help Celebrate the 27th Anniversary of the WHITE LUNG ASSOCIATION
Asbestos Victim's Superfund
Asbestos Watch March 14, 2005 (Maryland
chapter of the White Lung Association meetings)
Directorate of Safety, Health,
and Environment (open letter)
Joe Oliver's Alerts:
Joe Oliver, National Board Member and former President of the
White Lung Association, has issued a call to all persons to help
gather evidence on the conspiracy by asbestos trade organizations
to suppress the knowledge about the hazards of asbestos exposure.
If you know anything about this horrific history or have documents
which can be used to further prove their heinous crimes, please
contact Joe Oliver, WLA, POB 1483, Balt. MD 21203.
The White Lung Association stands
in opposition to The Specter Bill (S.852)
S.1115: Bill to amend the Toxic Substances
Control Act to reduce the health risks posed by asbestos-containing
products - This bill is supported by the WLA.
Meet Mr. Asbestos
Proceedings of the Asbestos
Symposium for the Asian Countries - now available for purchase.
Senator Specter Breaks Promise to
Mesothelioma Patient and Research Community
Senate Judiciary Committee returns to
Mark-Up on May 11th: Proposed asbestos trust fund legislation
will further penalize victims of asbestos-caused diseases
May 2003, the Global Environment & Technology Foundation developed
the "Asbestos Strategies" report.
The latest issue is Spring 2005
The latest issue is January 4, 2007
December 17, 2000 is Asbestos Hazard Awareness Day
Articles & Publications:
Occupational Respiratory Diseases:
Asbestos Associated Disease -- Reprinted from: Maxcy-Rosenau
Public Health and Preventative Medicine 11th ed. (John
M. Last, Ed.) 1980, Appleton-Century-Crofts
Asbestos Victims Deserve Compensation
Not Betrayal: position release by the Board of Directors, White
Paul Safchuck May
Nicholson Dies at 70
Ray Sentes Brave
Fighter For Asbestos Victims