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Mesothelioma and Asbestos Trust Funds

Millions of Americans have been exposed to asbestos due to its widespread use during the 20th century. Despite knowledge of its dangers, manufacturers of asbestos failed to warn the public, resulting in numerous lawsuits against them. Many of these companies resorted to bankruptcy to avoid future litigation. Bankruptcy courts required these companies to establish trust funds to ensure victims of the manufacturers

Troy Walton

Reviewed By

Troy E. Walton

Personal Injury Attorney

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Important Facts About Asbestos Trust Funds

  • Asbestos Trust funds compensate patients when the responsible companies are bankrupt.
  • Asbestos trust funds typically pay out quickly and can equal hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • Most people receive payments from 20 or more asbestos trust funds.
  • The median trust fund payout is about $41,000.
  • Asbestos bankruptcy trust funds offer two review processes depending on the individual facts of the patient’s asbestos exposure and life circumstances.
  • Asbestos claims are paid out as a percentage of what the bankrupt company has historically paid in court settlements and verdicts before filing for bankruptcy.

What Are Asbestos Trust Funds?

Because of the widespread use of asbestos, its health hazards, and the asbestos companies’ failure to warn users of its dangers, asbestos companies faced lawsuits from victims, who developed mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, and their families.

Many asbestos companies filed for bankruptcy due to the liability claims asserted in asbestos litigation. The courts mandated bankrupt asbestos manufacturers establish bankruptcy trust funds with court-approved funding amounts, led by trust fund administrators, to guarantee compensation for patients diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses in the future. As a result, billions of dollars are available in asbestos trust funds.

Mesothelioma Compensation From Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts

People who file a trust fund claim often make claims against numerous trusts. Typically, multiple companies are responsible for a person’s lung cancer or mesothelioma. Many corporations were involved in the mining, production, or sale of asbestos and various asbestos products. They all have potential liability in causing your cancer. 

With enough evidence, it’s not uncommon for claimants to file asbestos trust fund claims with 20 or more trusts. A mesothelioma attorney will file mesothelioma trust fund claims with all bankrupt asbestos suppliers believed to be responsible for their client’s asbestos exposure. Therefore, your asbestos attorney can secure a larger overall payout by filing claims against all responsible parties. This process along with a mesothelioma lawsuit helps you and your family pay for treatments, compensate for lost wages, and overcome any other financial challenges.

According to the last report issued by the RAND Institute for Civil Justice, the median mesothelioma trust fund payment was $41,000, although each individual claim is different so trust fund compensation can vary. Filing with multiple trusts can significantly increase the overall amount you receive from the settlement trusts. The average total recovery for an asbestos compensation claim is usually a combination of many asbestos trust claims and a handful of lawsuit settlements against non-bankrupt companies. The average total recovery on a mesothelioma case is between $1 million to $1.4 million with the majority of those funds often coming from the various trusts.

Compensation for Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer Victims

Many people with asbestos-related diseases receive financial payouts from bankruptcy trusts. A mesothelioma lawyer can help determine if you qualify to file a claim for compensation from the various trusts. Asbestos companies in bankruptcy organized and funded trusts, per court orders, to ensure that victims exposed to their products could continue to receive compensation for the companies’ wrongdoing.

What You Need to Know About Asbestos Trust Funds

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Billions Available in Compensation

According to a 2008 RAND Institute for Civil Justice report, the last year they issued a report, victims of asbestos exposure collectively received approximately $3.3 billion from trust funds. Trust fund payouts vary from one trust to another, but billions of dollars have been set aside for people with asbestos lung cancer and mesothelioma.

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Thousands Receiving Financial Support

More and more patients and their families are turning to asbestos claims for financial support. These funds have paid out billions of dollars and will continue doing so to help people affected by asbestos diseases.

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Mesothelioma Patients Are Victims

People with mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer are victims of corporate negligence. The asbestos manufacturers knew or should have known about the dangers of their products and failed to warn the public. If you have mesothelioma, you’re a victim of corporate wrongdoing and deserve to get compensated.

How Are Mesothelioma Trust Funds Created?

Bankruptcy courts forced each asbestos company filing for bankruptcy to establish funds to help compensate victims of mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. The purpose is to set aside money for current and future asbestos claims against at-fault companies. These trusts help compensate asbestos-exposure victims, including people diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Asbestos trust fund compensation is the result of Chapter 11 corporate bankruptcy which allows companies to reorganize their finances and continue doing business while paying their debt.

A company in bankruptcy cannot be sued, regardless of its negligence. You must file your asbestos compensation claims with the company’s trust fund if a company responsible for your cancer has filed for bankruptcy.

Johns Manville Corporation

The Johns Manville company filed for bankruptcy on August 26, 1982, due to the increasing number of lawsuits related to asbestos exposure. The company was one of the largest producers of asbestos-containing materials, and thousands of individuals filed lawsuits against the company claiming exposure to asbestos had caused serious health problems, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. In response to the growing number of lawsuits, Johns Manville filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which allowed the company to reorganize and establish a trust to compensate asbestos victims.

The Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust was established in 1987, which created a precedent for other companies. Since Johns Manville Corporation established its trust fund, many other asbestos suppliers followed suit by filing for bankruptcy. These companies were also compelled by the courts to establish their own trust funds.

The Manville Trust has paid hundreds of thousands of asbestos claims since it was established in 1987. It continues to compensate victims today.

Recently Created Trusts

Georgia-Pacific filed for bankruptcy protection and in 2020 pledged $1 billion from a subsidiary to its trust fund. However, the bankruptcy court hasn’t yet approved Georgia Pacific’s trust due to several objections from asbestos claimants and other creditors.

Georgia-Pacific Creates Asbestos Trust Fund

Georgia-Pacific created Bestwall LLC to absorb legal liabilities from tens of thousands of asbestos-related lawsuits. Bestwall refers to the former wallboard, joint compound, and drywall manufacturer Bestwall-Gypsum, which Georgia-Pacific purchased in 1965. Bestwall filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2017. The company sold a range of products with asbestos in them:

  • Wallboards
  • Joint compounds (All-Purpose, wet, dry, Ready Mix, Triple Duty)
  • Drywall adhesive
  • Other compound types (bedding, spackling, laminating and topping)
  • Acoustical plaster (Kalite)
  • Roof coating

The trust fund is for anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer who:

  • worked for Bestwall-Gypsum or Georgia-Pacific
  • worked with or around any Bestwall-Gypsum or Georgia-Pacific asbestos-containing products
  • are family members of Bestwall-Gypsum or Georgia-Pacific workers

OI-Glass Creates Asbestos Trust Fund

In 2022, OI-Glass, based in Ohio, established a $610 million fund. O-I Glass created Paddock Enterprises as a spinoff subsidiary company to absorb legal claims by people diagnosed with an asbestos disease.

O-I Glass is one of the top producers of glass bottles, jars and other products. Paddock Enterprises began the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process in 2020 to escape future asbestos lawsuits.

In the 1940s and 1950s, then called Owens-Illinois Inc., the company produced Kaylo, an asbestos insulation product. The asbestos-containing material was primarily used as pipe covering and block insulation. Owens-Illinois sold off the Kaylo production line in 1958. Since then, the parent company has faced approximately 400,000 asbestos legal claims.

Asbestos Trust Funds List

Below is a list of asbestos trust funds created over the last several decades. This list does not cover all the available trust funds to compensate mesothelioma victims, but this is a vast majority of national suppliers of asbestos products who have sought bankruptcy protection.

There are many asbestos manufacturers who only served regional parts of the country where only select asbestos victims will qualify for payment. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer will be able to determine which trust your case may qualify for.

With the large number of trusts, billions of dollars were set aside for mesothelioma patients.

Median Payout

Company

U.S. Gypsum Company

2006

Owens Corning

2006

Johns Manville

1988

Armstrong World Industries

1988

Babcock and Wilcox Company

2006

Owens Corning/Fibreboard Corp.

2006

Combustion Engineering

2006

Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp.

2006

Eagle-Pitcher Industries

1996

Federal Mogul/Turner & Newall

2007

National Gypsum Company

1993

Initial Funding

$3.9 billion

$3.4 billion

$2.5 billion

$2 billion

$1.8 billion

$1.5 billion

$1.2 billion

$1.2 billion

$730 million

$635 million

$446 million

Year Created

2006

2006

1988

2006

2006

2006

2006

2006

1996

2007

1993

Asbestos Trust Fund Payout Process

There is a four-step process involved in filing a claim and receiving an asbestos trust fund payout:

1

Filing the Claim(s) – Filing begins by hiring an experienced asbestos law firm that will determine which companies in the patient’s occupational history are responsible for the patient’s mesothelioma or lung cancer. Traditionally, multiple companies are at fault, which means there could be claims filed against all of the bankrupt companies responsible for the patient’s exposure to asbestos. Even if there is no current evidence of exposure to a certain bankrupt company's products, a mesothelioma law firm will file placeholders with the trusts to preserve their client's rights to potential compensation from those trusts at a future date. This process helps stay the statute of limitations so if future evidence is presented, a mesothelioma lawyer can seek compensation from a particular trust.

2

Claim Review – There are two types of reviews for trust fund claims: Expedited Review and Individual Review. Expedited claims are paid at a predetermined amount. Individual claims can result in higher payouts but typically take longer. During each filing, the claimant will select the method of review as either expedited or individual. A mesothelioma attorney can help choose the right review process depending on the individual facts of the patient’s asbestos exposure and life circumstances.

3

Claim Liquidation – Liquidation is the assignment of a monetary value to the claim. When filed as expedited and valid, claims already have a monetary value scheduled by the trust. Liquidation for individual claims, on the other hand, is determined by the negotiation of the trust fund’s trustee and the claimant’s asbestos lawyer.

4

Claim Payment – After an offer is made and accepted, payment is the final step of the procedure.

Comparing Expedited Reviews and Individual Reviews

Asbestos claims usually fall into either expedited reviews or individual reviews. Expedited reviews settle claims quickly with a fixed payout. Individual reviews take longer but usually result in a larger payout. Some claims are deemed “extraordinary,” which involves a mixture of both review types.

Expedited Reviews — These reviews settle claims more quickly than individual reviews and the payout is a fixed value. This process is used if the case meets a set of criteria established by the trust to be expedited. If the evidence is sufficient, the claim is valid, and the process proceeds to liquidation and payment. 

Individual Reviews — These reviews are required when claimants do not fall within the typical criteria set up by the trust for an expedited review. Payout values for individual claims vary compared to the fixed values established for expedited claims. The individuals able to file a claim are usually based on special circumstances of a case, such as a claimant diagnosed at a young age, having minor children, or losing earnings. In these cases, payouts are typically much higher than expedited claims.

Extraordinary Claims — These are special cases where the asbestos 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 patient is a victim of one specific company under certain employment circumstances, such as being an employee who worked for the bankrupt company for a significant amount of time (30 years, for example).

How Do Payment Percentages Work for Asbestos Trust Funds?

Payment Percentages — To prevent the bankruptcy trusts from running out of funds, trustees establish “payment percentages” for claims. Most trusts are unable to pay claimants 100% of the claim amount called the “scheduled value.” Instead, the actual settlement amounts are a specific percentage of the scheduled value for each asbestos disease.

Each trust fund establishes a scheduled value for each disease, which serves to estimate the average value of a claim based on traditional values the company paid before filing for bankruptcy. If a trust fund has a scheduled case value for mesothelioma of $200,000, with a payment percentage of 25%, the actual trust fund payout to the claimant would be $50,000. Payment percentages are different for each trust. While some trusts have a payment percentage as high as 80% or more, others have payment percentages as low as 10% or less.

These payment percentages also fluctuate. If payment percentages increase after a claimant has already been paid by a trust, the trust will back-pay past claimants to make up the difference. If a percentage decreases, then prior claimants do not have to pay back the difference. Due to this structure, there is no benefit to waiting to file a trust fund claim. You should start the process as soon as possible to avoid a decrease in percentages and a lower payout amount. Starting your claim sooner rather than later for compensation from asbestos trust funds will only benefit you.

File An Asbestos Trust Fund Claim

Asbestos has been popular for years because it is heat-resistant and inexpensive. However, asbestos has many health risks, which many companies ignored and hid from the general public for decades. As asbestos lung cancer and mesothelioma incidence increased, the number of legal cases concerning asbestos exposure grew.

Asbestos compensation claims can be used to cover lost wages, treatment costs, funeral bills, and restitution for pain and suffering. If you or a loved one has mesothelioma or lung cancer from asbestos, you are entitled to compensation from a trust fund. Learn how to start your asbestos trust fund claim with free legal support from Mesothelioma Guide’s experts. Mesothelioma patients and their families are able to access the funds with help from a mesothelioma attorney. 

Common Questions About Asbestos Trust Funds

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How much will I get from the bankruptcy trust funds?

Your receipt of money depends on how many claims you file. Most trust fund payments fall between $10,000 and $100,000. Most mesothelioma clients file against multiple asbestos bankruptcy trusts, which can bring your total trust fund compensation to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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What is the average asbestos trust fund payout?

The average scheduled payment amount from a single trust is worth $41,000, but some mesothelioma patients can qualify for payment amounts of more than $100,000 from particular trusts depending on the evidence provided by a mesothelioma lawyer. Filing with multiple trusts increases your overall compensation. Most victims file with more than 20 different trust funds, which can push the total recovery amount to more than $1 million.

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How soon will I receive payment from an asbestos trust fund?

If you hire an experienced mesothelioma lawyer, you may receive your asbestos trust fund payment as soon as a few months. Since the defending company is bankrupt, there is no deposition, trial or prolonged legal process.

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How do I know if I’m eligible for payment from an asbestos trust fund?

Talking with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer will help you learn your eligibility for trust funds compensation. They can easily determine which active trust funds are linked to your asbestos exposure history.

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How much money is left in the asbestos trust funds?

To date, there have been over 70 asbestos manufacturing companies who have filed for bankruptcy and been forced to create their own trust fund. Therefore, it’s difficult to know exactly how much is still available in all of these trust funds, but best estimates put the total at more than $30 billion still available to mesothelioma victims.

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Who is eligible to file an asbestos trust fund claim?

Any patient diagnosed with an asbestos disease can file trust fund claims, as long as the time limit hasn’t expired. That time limit is usually three years from the date of diagnosis, but some trusts have shorter time limits, therefore it’s important to file as soon after diagnosis as possible. Nearly all patients file with the assistance of an experienced asbestos law firm, as filing for one’s self can be very complicated and almost always results in the patient ultimately receiving far less compensation than if they use an experienced mesothelioma attorney. If the patient has passed away, then their family members can seek compensation from mesothelioma trust funds on behalf of their loved one’s estate.

Sources & Author

    1. 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.
    2. Bestwall Takes Action to Address Asbestos Claims. Bestwall. Retrieved from: http://www.bestwall.com/. Accessed: 08/14/2020.
    3. 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.
    4. O-I Glass Announces Agreement of Potential Plan of Reorganization for Paddock Subsidiary. O-I Glass. Retrieved from: https://www.o-i.com/news/o-i-glass-announces-agreement-of-potential-plan-of-reorganization-for-paddock-subsidiary/. Accessed: 05/04/2021.
    5. Paddock Enterprises, LLC, an O-I Glass, Inc. Affiliate, Seeks a Final and Equitable Resolution of its Legacy Asbestos-Related Claims. O-I Glass. Retrieved from: https://www.o-i.com/news/paddock-enterprises-llc-an-o-i-glass-inc-affiliate-seeks-a-final-and-equitable-resolution-of-its-legacy-asbestos-related-claims/. Accessed: 05/04/2021.
    6. Asbestos Costs Drive Owens-Illinois Affiliate to Bankruptcy. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from: https://www.wsj.com/articles/asbestos-costs-drive-owens-illinois-affiliate-to-bankruptcy-11578316195. Accessed: 05/04/2021.
    7. O-I Glass subsidiary files for bankruptcy amid asbestos lawsuits. Toledo Blade. Retrieved from: https://www.toledoblade.com/business/2020/01/07/O-I-Glass-subsidiary-files-for-bankruptcy-amid-asbestos-lawsuits/stories/20200107138. Accessed: 05/04/2021.
    8. O-I Glass Subsidiary Floats $610 Million Asbestos Bankruptcy Settlement. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from: https://www.wsj.com/articles/o-i-glass-subsidiary-floats-610-million-asbestos-bankruptcy-settlement-11642032242. Accessed: 01/16/2022.
    9. Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts: An Overview of Trust Structure and Activity with Detailed Reports on the Largest Trusts. RAND Institute for Civil Justice. Retrieved from: https://www.rand.org/pubs/technical_reports/TR872.html. Accessed: 10/30/18.
    10. Asbestos: Medical and Legal Aspects. Barry Castleman. 1984.
    11. Asbestos. Mealey’s Litigation Report. Retrieved from: https://www.bateswhite.com/media/pnc/5/media.285.pdf. Accessed: 03/19/2019.
    12. Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts: An Overview of Trust Structure and Activity with Detailed Reports on the Largest Trusts. RAND Institute for Civil Justice. Retrieved from: https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/technical_reports/2010/RAND_TR872.pdf. Accessed: 03/26/19.
    13. Resolving Asbestos Claims: The Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust. Duke Law. Retrieved from: https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4069&context=lcp. Accessed: 03/26/19.
    14. Chapter 11 – Bankruptcy Basics. United States Courts. Retrieved from: https://www.uscourts.gov/services-forms/bankruptcy/bankruptcy-basics/chapter-11-bankruptcy-basics. Accessed: 03/26/19.
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About the Writer, Retired LCDR Carl Jewett, VA Claims Agent

LCDR Carl Jewett is a retired Naval Officer who serves as the Veterans Department Director and Patient Services Director at Mesothelioma Guide. He is a VA-Accredited Claims Agent with more than 14 years of experience filing asbestos-related VA claims. He has helped over 1400 veterans who have been diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses get approved for VA Disability Compensation, VA Pension, and/or Aid & Attendance benefits. Because veteran’s are also entitled to compensation through the legal system, Carl has communicated with many mesothelioma law firms across the country. He has gained extensive knowledge of asbestos trust funds, mesothelioma lawsuits, settlements, and the claims process. He provides both veterans and civilians with information regarding their legal options.