Asbestos Trust Funds
Companies have used asbestos for decades even though health risks have been known. Trust funds ($35+ billion) are available to compensate patients affected by mesothelioma.
Asbestos Trust Fund Defined
What You Need to Know About Asbestos Trusts
Trusts Provide Financial Support
Compensation from trust funds can provide financial support for patients and families. This can help patients get the treatment they deserve and peace of mind in knowing their family will be secure.
Patients are Victims
People who develop mesothelioma are victims of corporate misconduct. Companies using asbestos products knew about the dangers they posed but neglected to inform employees.
Trusts are a Result of Corporate Bankruptcy
Asbestos cases have become the largest area of mass tort cases in U.S. history, requiring bankrupt corporations to set up trust funds to handle the flood of claims against them.
Get Access to Trust Fund Money
How Can Trust Funds Help?
- Over $30 billion is available for patients and families.
- Access financial assistance for treatments, lost wages and family support.
- Potential for an expedited review of your claim.
Companies set up trust funds to finance these cases and reach settlements. They filed for bankruptcy, but with the stipulation that they could still operate as a functioning company. The size of the trust is determined by a bankruptcy court. There have been billions of dollars set aside in these trusts as compensation for patients and their families.
Anyone who has mesothelioma or has a family member diagnosed with mesothelioma can file a claim to receive compensation. This compensation may cover lost wages, treatment costs, funeral bills, and restitution for pain and suffering.
- As of 2013, there is an estimated $30+ billion dollars set aside in trust funds for mesothelioma patients.
- About 27.5 million people were exposed to asbestos while working.
- Only 2.5% of those 27.5 million have filed for compensation.
- From the years 1980-2002 there was a $70 billion dollar payout to victims of asbestos-related illnesses.
The Johns-Manville Corporation
Originally founded in New York City in the mid-19th century, the Johns-Manville Corporation was once a leading manufacturer of insulation and roofing materials. These insulation and roofing materials, unsurprisingly, contained substantial quantities of asbestos. Employees of Johns-Manville started filing for disability for lung diseases as early as 1929, and the corporation was even involved in a violent strike at one of its supplying asbestos mines in Asbestos, Canada.
In the 1980s, the corporation would be one of the first companies to file bankruptcy as a result of asbestos-related lawsuits. The company subsequently established the first asbestos trust fund in 1987. This created a precedent that led most major manufacturing companies to file for bankruptcy, thus reorganizing their assets and establishing similar asbestos trusts.
Bankruptcy and the Role of Asbestos Trust Funds
What is Chapter 11 Bankruptcy?
Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a form of corporate bankruptcy that allows companies to reorganize their finances in order to continue doing business, while also continuing to pay their debt. Victims of asbestos exposure must file their claims against trust funds if the company responsible for their illness has filed for bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy code doesn’t limit victims from how many trust funds they may file a claim against, nor does it set a limit on how much money the victim may claim. If the victim can prove a work history at several different companies who used asbestos they can legally file a claim against each trust fund responsible.
In fact, many victims file claims against more than one trust and receive payment from each. However, victims may not, in some cases, receive the full amount they claim. This depends on how much funding is available through the trust.
Trust agreements are financial relationships between two parties; in this case, the asbestos companies at fault and their trustees. Trusts are traditionally set up to allow trustees to manage the property of another party. The property being managed by trustees of asbestos trust funds is the money set aside to pay victims of asbestos exposure.
The responsibilities of the trustees include:
- Managing investment of the trust
- Filing tax returns
- Filing annual reports to the bankruptcy courts
- Standing in as the plaintiff in place of the debtor (the asbestos company at fault) in bankruptcy courts
Filing a Claim Against an Asbestos Trust Fund
If the parties involved cannot reach an agreement on their own, the claim is settled in court. However, this is very rare when filing a claim against an asbestos trust fund.
The claims process, assuming out-of-court settlement, is broken up into a 4-step procedure.
1Filing Claims – Filing begins with determining which companies in the claimant’s (i.e. the victim of asbestos exposure) occupational history are responsible for their illness. During filing, claimants select the method of review as either expedited or individual review.
2Claim Review – There are two separate procedures for reviewing claims.
These reviews settle claims quickly and the payout is a fixed value. This procedure is used when claimants know the fixed value and meet a set of criteria established by the trust, providing medical evidence and occupational history. If the evidence is determined to be sufficient, the claim is valid and the process proceeds to liquidation. If not, claimants can file an individual review.
These reviews are required when claimants do not meet the criteria set up by the trust for an expedited review. Payout values for individual claims may be greater or less than the fixed values established for expedited claims. Good law firms always try to file for individual review to avoid being restrained by fixed values associated with expedited claims. Therefore, claims tend to be much higher.
3Claim Liquidation – Liquidation is the assignment of a monetary value to the claim. Valid claims filed as expedited already have a monetary value scheduled by the trust. Liquidation for individual claims, on the other hand, is determined by negotiation of the trustee and the claimant’s lawyer.
These are special cases where the claim meets the criteria of an expedited claim, but liquidation is allowed to be determined like an individual claim. These claims are used in cases where the claimant was a victim of one specific company under certain employment circumstances, such as being an employee who worked for the company for a significant amount of time (30 years, for example).
4Claim Payment – After an offer is made and accepted, payment is the final step of the procedure.
Unfortunately, paying out claims is not always a straightforward procedure. Asbestos trusts set up by companies that no longer exist have a limited amount of funds available to claimants.
Predictions of how many employees might develop mesothelioma per any given company are naturally flawed.
Payment percentages are the proportion of the fund entitled to the claimant. This is predominantly set up to avoid huge individual claims from exhausting the fund. Therefore, if a claimant’s claim was hypothetically liquidated at $20 million with a payment percentage of 25%, the trust would pay the claimant $5 million.
Payment percentages can change over time, and are different for each trust. Some trusts have a payment percentage of 100%, while others have egregiously low payment percentages of 1-2%.
Learn how to access these trust funds with our free legal support.