Georgia-Pacific LLC, an affiliate company of Koch Industries, has pledged $1 billion to start an asbestos trust fund. The fund is for victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
This news is significant for all people who have current — or future — asbestos claims against Georgia-Pacific or its affiliates.
Facing a rash of asbestos lawsuits, Georgia-Pacific created Bestwall LLC to absorb future legal disputes. Bestwall refers to the former wallboard and joint compound (drywall) manufacturer Bestwall-Gypsum, which Georgia-Pacific purchased in 1965.
Bestwall filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2017. Filing for this type of bankruptcy involves establishing a liability trust to resolve future legal claims from people with mesothelioma.
Georgia-Pacific will fund the asbestos trust fund in the Bestwall LLC name. Last week, company officials asked the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina to approve the initial funding amount.
The announcement of this initial funding affects a wide range of Americans:
- People who have mesothelioma after working for Bestwall-Gypsum or Georgia-Pacific
- Mesothelioma patients who worked at any company that bought and used Bestwall-Gypsum or Georgia-Pacific products
- Victims of mesothelioma who are family members of Bestwall-Gypsum or Georgia-Pacific workers
If you fit any of the above descriptions, please reach out to our team. Email our patient advocate, Karen Ritter, at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions about how to access the money in this Bestwall asbestos trust fund.
Bestwall-Gypsum Products and Jobs Affected by Asbestos
For most of the 20th century, commercial and industrial use of asbestos was at its apex. Bestwall-Gypsum was one of many companies that prospered during this era.
Bestwall-Gypsum manufactured and sold a range of wall products with asbestos, such as:
- Different types of joint compound (all-purpose, wet, dry, ready mix, triple duty)
- Drywall adhesive
- Other compound types (bedding, spackling, laminating and topping)
- Acoustical plaster (Kalite)
- Roof coating
Any job involved in making these products at a Bestwall-Gypsum factory was life-threatening. A wide range of construction jobs — such as anyone tasked with installing drywall or applying joint compound — were also at risk.
Other occupations in danger of exposure and mesothelioma from Bestwall-Gypsum items include:
- HVAC workers
- Shipyard workers
Asbestos Claims Against Georgia-Pacific and Bestwall-Gypsum
Bestwall-Gypsum was initially based in Pennsylvania, and the asbestos-liability company is headquartered in North Carolina. Georgia-Pacific has its headquarters in Atlanta. Similar to Georgia-Pacific, which has facilities in more than 30 states, Bestwall-Gypsum had manufacturing locations throughout the country.
Koch Industries acquired Georgia-Pacific and its affiliates in 2005. Georgia-Pacific has fought legal claims on behalf of itself and its affiliates for decades.
Bestwall revealed in its bankruptcy press release that the company had spent “approximately $2.9 billion” in attempts to resolve more than 430,000 asbestos personal injury lawsuits. The company started facing legal claims nearly 40 years prior to its bankruptcy.
At the time of the bankruptcy announcement, there were more than 62,000 pending asbestos claims against Bestwall. The company said it anticipated litigation to continue through 2050, which is a significant factor in its decision to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The commitment of $1 billion towards Bestwall’s trust fund should help resolve many pending mesothelioma claims. It’ll also provide financial relief for future claimants.
History of Bestwall-Gypsum and Asbestos
Bestwall-Gypsum halted the manufacturing of joint compounds and other asbestos products in 1977. However, mesothelioma takes between 20 and 50 years to reveal itself on medical scans, through symptoms and in tissue biopsies. So workers from the 1970s may get a diagnosis in the 2020s.
Companies like Bestwall used asbestos, which can withstand heat, in joint compounds to reduce the risk of fire damage to walls in buildings, ships and other structures. Bestwall’s joint compound/drywall mud products contained chrysotile asbestos, which can pose a risk to human health when disturbed.
Fragments of chrysotile asbestos, or “white asbestos,” are dangerously sharp. If disturbed, these fibers splinter from the joint compound and float in the air due to their microscopic, weightless physical traits.
When inhaled or swallowed accidentally by workers or others nearby, these fibers can pierce into tissue and create a fast-spreading disease from the body’s cells. This process leads to mesothelioma.
Sources & Author
- Georgia-Pacific Puts Up $1 Billion to Fund Asbestos Trust. Bloomberg Law. Retrieved from: https://news.bloomberglaw.com/product-liability-and-toxics-law/georgia-pacific-puts-up-1-billion-to-fund-asbestos-trust. Accessed: 08/14/2020.
- Bestwall Takes Action to Address Asbestos Claims. Bestwall. Retrieved from: http://www.bestwall.com/. Accessed: 08/14/2020.
- Bestwall LLC, a Georgia-Pacific Affiliate, Takes Action to Achieve Equitable and Permanent Resolution of Asbestos Claims. PRNewswire. Retrieved from: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/bestwall-llc-a-georgia-pacific-affiliate-takes-action-to-achieve-equitable-and-permanent-resolution-of-asbestos-claims-300548341.html. Accessed: 08/14/2020.
Sources & Author