Pittsburgh Corning Forced to Pay $3.5 Billion in Asbestos Lung Cancer Lawsuit Settlements

A historic case spanning over the course of the last two decades has finally come to a quiet conclusion. Corning Inc. and PPG were the defendants in several lung cancer lawsuit settlements against their joint venture “Pittsburgh Corning Corp.,” which made a pipe insulation product named “Unibestos” from 1964 to 1972 containing significant amounts of asbestos.

Parties ranging from manufacturing workers to pipe fitters to occupants in buildings where Pittsburgh Corning products were installed came forward after developing asbestos-related lung cancers and other diseases.

The final settlement agreed upon by all parties included $825 million in damages as well as 1.4 million PPG shares (or a cash equivalent). Since additional parties may come forward, Corning Inc. and PPG have amassed a compensation fund totaling near $3.5 billion with contributions from their insurance companies for lung cancer lawsuit settlements.

Many of the original filing plaintiffs have passed since the beginning of the lawsuit, so the hefty settlement comes as a small consolation to the victims’ families.

The End of a Long, Litigious Road

Now that the lengthy lawsuit has ended, claimants can finally receive compensation that they have been waiting on for over 20 years. In total, more than 400,000 lawsuits were filed against Pittsburgh Corning Corp. 200,000 of them were settled by the point the company filed for bankruptcy in 2000. Corning, Inc. — an international manufacturer of industrial glass and ceramic products — was the defendant in 11,800 lawsuits as a result of their connection with the case.

Many of the cases began before 1996, and their verdicts caused Pittsburgh Corning to file for bankruptcy. Since bankruptcy is frequently not a legitimate protection against asbestos liabilities, a court-ordered asbestos claims trust was formed in order to manage the payouts. Defendants were eventually ordered to abide by a settlement proposed by a judge in the Federal District Court of Western Pennsylvania.

That settlement, which was reached far back in 2013, was determined at the conclusion of a bankruptcy proceeding for Pittsburgh Corning. The defendants attempted to file countless appeals, possibly to stall the conclusion of the case and prolong the repayment period, but as of January 13, 2016, all filed appeals were summarily withdrawn. Now, victims and their families have access to the settlement amount that is predicted to total around $3.5 billion.

As mentioned before, PPG contributed $825 million and 1.4 million of company shares. Corning was ordered to contribute multi-year payments that total upwards of $290 million. Combined, their contribution to the fund totals $1.7 billion. Their insurers will add more to reach an estimated $3.5 billion in total available compensation for victims.

Obtaining Asbestos Lung Cancer Lawsuit Settlements

Cases like these illustrate the huge complexity involved in asbestos-related lung cancer lawsuits. Many thousands of parties can file separately, jointly or as part of a class-action lawsuit. Since each individual may have sought different levels of damages in proportion to their medical expenses and suffering, distributing the funds after settlement remains a complex procedure.

Anyone suffering from lung cancer that is presumably asbestos-related should therefore move to file their own lawsuit and claims against trust funds as soon as possible to gain a higher likelihood of obtaining their favored outcome.

Matthew Davis

Author

Matthew Davis has studied journalism at the University of Colorado and has covered civil litigation for a variety of publications. He joined Mesowatch in 2016 and covers asbestos litigation developments in the U.S., as well as newsworthy asbestos cases.