Mesothelioma Trust Funds
Over $30 million is available to mesothelioma victims and their families sitting in various trust accounts from asbestos bankruptcy cases. Getting money from these funds is not the same as filing a traditional asbestos lawsuit or going through mesothelioma litigation. Instead, those who have been affected by asbestos exposure may only have to apply for the funds to get a partial payment for their damages and injuries. A mesothelioma attorney can help you through this process.
What is a mesothelioma trust fund?
The use of asbestos was widespread until about the late 1970s. By that time, very serious health risks had been discovered. Unfortunately, some companies choose to continue to use and create asbestos products despite knowing how dangerous asbestos was.
As the legal claims began to mount, many companies could not keep up with the money obligations necessary to pay mesothelioma victims and their loved ones.
Asbestos trust funds or mesothelioma trust funds were created to provide funds for future claims for damages related to asbestos exposure. The funds are set aside as part of asbestos manufacturers filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy across the country.
Asbestos companies that ended up having to file bankruptcy were not only manufacturers but also companies that produced products that had asbestos in them. It also included those businesses that mined and produced the mineral itself.
Asbestos Trust Funds and Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
In Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a business has to account for all debts that they know about. Normally, the company files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection because they need to reorganize their company to address current outstanding debts.
When the asbestos companies filed bankruptcy, it was in response to the huge number of asbestos claims that needed to be paid. These began to add up because of the significant health impacts that asbestos has on prior employees, construction workers, and anyone else who had asbestos exposure.
Although the company did not know who might have a claim or how much that claim may be, they had to create some way to compensate unknown future victims and address future claims.
The solution was a monetary set aside that is to be used only to pay mesothelioma victims and their families. It may also be available for anyone else who has any other asbestos-related disease.
Congress specifically created Section 524(g) of the Bankruptcy Code in 1994. This section allowed companies to create asbestos trust funds to address future claims related to physical injuries and fatalities from asbestos exposure.
Without these funds, the companies likely would have gone completely out of business, providing nothing to those who had future claims related to their asbestos exposure.
Accessing Chapter 11 Trust Funds
The trust funds are established through the bankruptcy court, and the bankruptcy court must often administer or provide oversight of fund payments. That means that applying to receive money from the trust fund might involve working with the bankruptcy court (or its representatives, such as a trustee) to receive those funds.
The Department of Justice and Mesothelioma Trust Funds
The Department of Justice (DOJ) currently oversees many asbestos trust funds. They review and manage the trusts to help decrease the occurrence of fraudulent or misleading applications.
By doing this, the DOJ helps ensure that real victims can get the money that they need to address their damages.
- Increase transparency of application processing
- Protect legitimate claimants
- Review applications in multiple trusts
- Decrease potential fraud and abuse
- Hold trust fund administrators accountable
Because application review is subject to this additional oversight level, it is important that your trust fund application is accurate and thorough.
Start Receiving Trust Fund Settlements in Just a Few Months.
How does a mesothelioma trust help mesothelioma victims?
Normally, when a mesothelioma victim or their family has a legal claim because of asbestos exposure, they must take legal action. That could mean they negotiate a settlement with the defendant (such as the asbestos manufacturer, the employer that caused the exposure, or others). It also may mean that they need to file an asbestos lawsuit.
Asbestos litigation is extremely complicated and time-consuming. It can take years to fully prepare a case for trial. If there is a mesothelioma trust or asbestos trust fund available, those victims and their families may not have to go through the stressful process of litigation.
Instead, mesothelioma patients might be able to make a claim against the trust fund for payment. In some circumstances, the victims might also be able to assert their claim against more than one trust.
Choosing Between a Lawsuit and a Trust Fund Application
Mesothelioma victims have the option of going through asbestos litigation or applying for funds through the bankruptcy court. Many will choose to take advantage of a trust if they can. However, some mesothelioma patients can also file a lawsuit in addition to applying for funds from the trust fund.
Although there are significant funds available in the asbestos bankruptcy trusts, there are rules in place that limit the amount of funds you can access. In most situations, your claim will be limited by a payment percentage.
Essentially, by receiving funds from the bankruptcy rather than filing a lawsuit, you will often voluntarily take a reduction in the value of your claim.
Payment Percentage Example
Imagine that you go through the application process and you determine that you have $100,000 in damages that you are eligible to receive from the mesothelioma trust. However, that particular trust has a payment percentage of just one-third or roughly 33%. That means that the most you can get out of the trust process is $33,333.33.
The reduction in payment amounts was deliberately put in place to control how far the trust fund money will stretch. Reducing claims in this way makes it more likely that an asbestos trust fund will have enough money to pay something to everyone who wishes to make a claim.
What Option is Best for Mesothelioma Patients?
For mesothelioma victims and their families, applying for the trust fund money might be a good starting point, but you may not want to stop your efforts to get compensation after receiving funds from the trust. Instead, a mesothelioma lawyer will be able to help you decide whether you should take additional action to get more money for your losses.
In many situations, any money you receive in a lawsuit will be decreased by the amount of funds you received from an asbestos trust. As a result, it is important to weigh the pros and cons and decide whether you are likely to get additional money from a lawsuit. An experienced mesothelioma law firm can help you with this analysis and decision-making process.
Are mesothelioma trust funds the same as other asbestos trust funds?
In general, asbestos bankruptcy trusts are designed to address any and all asbestos-related diseases caused by asbestos exposure, including asbestosis. Most funds do not specifically require you to have a mesothelioma diagnosis to apply for funds.
Although asbestos trusts are set up for any and all types of asbestos-related diseases, those who have contracted mesothelioma will often get the highest payment percentage. Unfortunately, the disease’s deadly nature makes those cases more valuable compared to other types of medical conditions or lung cancers.
Family members can make claims for a related illness in either of these trust funds as well.
What are the available asbestos bankruptcy trusts for mesothelioma victims and those suffering from another asbestos-related illness?
Johns-Manville created the first asbestos trust in 1987. Today, over 100 trusts have been established under the bankruptcy code as a means to help mesothelioma victims and their families. The Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust still continues to remain active. It was initially valued at roughly $2.5 billion.
The following is a list of companies that currently have active trust funds to address mesothelioma claims. The amount in each fund varies significantly, and the potential payout from each fund will differ as well.
- A-Best Products
- A.P. Green Industries
- A.B.B. Global Inc.
- ACandS, Inc.
- API, Inc.
- Armstrong World Industries
- ARTRA Group, Inc.
- Asarco, Inc.
- Asbestos Claims Management Corp (for the National Gypsum Company)
- Babcock & Wilcox Company
- Burns & Roe Enterprises, Inc.
- CE Thurston & Sons
- Celox Corporation (Carey Canada, Inc.)
- Combustion Engineering
- Congoleum Corporation
- DII Industries, LLC (Dresser Industries)
- Eagle-Picher Corporation
- EJ Bartells Co., Inc.
- Federal Mogul Corp.
- Flintkote Co. (Flintkote Mines Ltd.)
- General Motors
- G-I Holdings
- Hercules Chemical
- H.K. Porter Co., Inc.
- J.T. Thorpe (with one trust in California and one in Texas)
- Johns-Manville Corp. (Philadelphia Asbestos Corp or Pacor)
- Kaiser Aluminum Corp.
- Keene Corp.
- Leslie Controls
- MacArthur Co (Western Asbestos Company)
- Maremont Corporation
- North American Refractories Co (NARCO)
- Owens Corning
- Owens Corning (Fibreboard Corp.)
- Pittsburgh Corning
- Plant Insulation Company
- Plibrico Co.
- Porter-Hayden Co.
- Quigley Co.
- Raymark Corp (Raytech Corp.)
- Shook & Fletcher Insulation Co.
- T.H. Agriculture & Nutrition
- Thorpe Insulation Co (Pacific Insulation Co.)
- Turner & Newall
- United Gilsonite
- United States Gypsum Co. (USG Corp.)
- United States Mineral Products
- UNR Industries (Unarco Industries, Inc.)
- W.R. Grace & Co.
Several other companies have either attempted to create an asbestos trust through the bankruptcy court, or they are in the process of setting it up. These companies include:
- Daimler Chrysler
- Kaiser Gypsum
- United Gilsonite
Most of these trust funds are established for employees and other workers who had asbestos exposure while employed. However, even dealing with products that these companies created using asbestos can result in serious health conditions.
If you do not see the company involved in your situation on this list, do not assume that you have no claim. Instead, the trust may not be listed yet, or you may need to start a mesothelioma lawsuit to get the funds you need to address your injuries and damage.
Remember that mesothelioma victims may be eligible to apply for funds from more than one trust. Whether this is an option for you will depend on which type of asbestos products you were exposed to and how severe your resulting injuries and damages may be.
How can an injured person get access to mesothelioma trust funds?
To access potential payouts from a mesothelioma trust fund, you must meet certain qualifications. Financial compensation eligibility varies by the particular trust. The list below includes some of the most common required criteria.
- Information about when and where the asbestos exposure took place
- Proof of an asbestos-related diagnosis (often through medical records and similar evidence)
- Physician statement that confirms your diagnosis
- Evidence that confirms that there was asbestos where you believe you were exposed(sometimes offered through expert statements)
- Medical evidence stating that asbestos was the cause or one of the causes of your medical diagnosis
Many trust funds will allow you or your attorney to submit evidence through their website. In other cases, you may need to print all of your documents and evidence and submit copies through the mail.
Once your complete application is submitted, it will either be subject to an individual review or an expedited review, depending on the trust. Individual review often takes longer than the expedited review. However, individual reviews are sometimes associated with higher payout amounts.
Your asbestos attorney will be able to help you gather the information and evidence you need to apply for funds. They will also walk you through the best way to submit your claim, often doing much of the leg work in the application process for you.
What are examples of mesothelioma trust fund award payouts or payment percentages?
Payment percentages vary a great deal. Some payouts are as low as under 1%, while others may be more in the range of 60%. The rate can vary based on your injuries and how quickly you file your claim compared to when the trust was established.
Victims of asbestos exposure should file an application for funds as soon as they realize they are eligible. Filing quickly can increase your percentage payout in some situations. It is also more likely that the trust will have enough funds to address your claim if you file early.
Below are a few examples of payment percentages.
- T. H. Agriculture & Nutrition: 15%
- Hercules Chemical Company: 4.7%Combustion Engineering: 18.5%
- Synkoloid Company (Artra Group): 0.5%
- John-Manville: 4.3%
- Armstrong World Industries: 19.7%
- Halliburton Company: 60%
The percentage payouts are often decreased as mesothelioma victims make claims. As a result, it is important that you make a claim as soon as possible if you qualify to ensure that you get the highest payout possible for your situation.
The award payouts vary significantly based on which trust you are applying to and your damages and injuries. The RAND Institute for Civil Justice, a research powerhouse, indicates that the average payout from an asbestos trust fund was approximately $41,000 as of 2008. Today, the amount of money that you can get varies widely, from $7,000 to $1.2 million.
The amount of compensation that is available is affected significantly by the payment percentages allowed and the total amount of damages. U.S. Gypsum, for example, expects a large number of claims. The fund originally held nearly $4 billion to pay for claims. But the payout percentage is only 19.2% to ensure that it has enough funds for future claims.
How does the mesothelioma trust fund list vary by industry?
Most mesothelioma trust funds have been established by companies attempting to set aside funds to address employee claims.
Asbestos is a mineral that naturally exists in fibrous form. It is resistant to heat, water, chemicals, and electricity, making it a perfect material in many industries. It was used in construction as well as in everyday household items.
Example of products where asbestos can be found include:
- Fireproof coatings
- Paints and sealants
- Joint compounds
- Lawn furniture
Any time you have asbestos exposure, you put your health at risk.
Some occupations were more at risk compared to others because of the frequency and intensity of their asbestos exposure. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry estimates that roughly 27 million workers were exposed to asbestos between 1940 and 1979.
There are over 75 different occupational groups that exposed workers to asbestos are part of their daily jobs.
Although there are regulations in place to reduce exposure today, some occupations are still at high risk compared to others.
Asbestos use is regulated, but it is still permitted in the United States. In fact, some products are still made with asbestos, including automobile brakes and clutches and some construction products, including roofing materials.
Companies with high exposure to asbestos are more likely to set up mesothelioma trust funds to provide money to victims. Businesses that created products used in construction and certain industries are more likely to have trust funds.
The top five at-risk industries for asbestos exposure are:
1. Construction workers
3. Industry workers (mechanics, chemical workers, and machinery operators, for example)
4. Power plant workers
5. Shipyard workers
Government shipyard workers and veterans file roughly 30 percent of mesothelioma lawsuits. If you are a veteran who has contracted mesothelioma, you might have additional options to get compensation that is specific to veterans.
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