As part of representation of clients occupationally exposed to asbestos, we file claims against bankrupt asbestos companies. Due to the fact that these companies have declared bankruptcy, it is impossible to sue them, and so the claims process is the only way in which clients can recover money for their exposure to the asbestos-containing products manufactured or distributed by these bankrupt companies.
Before bankrupt companies can begin to pay claimants for the injuries suffered, a number of events must occur. First, a Plan of Organization must first be approved by the Court. This Plan establishes a Trust, to which claims may be made. All claims must be made on Proof of Claim forms, which are made available by each individual Trust. The Trust then evaluates the claims, and pays them accordingly. It is important to note that there are very specific medical and exposure guidelines for each trust, and so not every client has a valid claim against every Trust.Among the recent activity in asbestos bankruptcy is the following:
- Babcock & Wilcox– This company manufactured steam-generating boiler and refractory products. Often, these systems were used in power plants and manufacturing facilities. The Joint Plan of Reorganization was approved by Judge Sarah Vance on January 17, 2006. A Proof of Claim form has been released by the Trust, and claims are currently being processed.
- Combustion Engineering– This company manufactured and supplied boilers and boiler products, and manufactured pipecovering and block. The Plan of Reorganization was approved by Judge Judith K. Fitzgerald on December 19, 2005. A Proof of Claim form has been released by the Trust, and claims are currently being processed.
- Federal Mogul– This company distributed asbestos-containing fireproofing and manufactured asbestos-containing brakes. The 4th Amended Plan of Reorganization was proposed in Fall of 2006, and a Confirmation Hearing will be held in early February of 2007 in front of Judge Judith K. Fitzgerald. If the plan is approved, and a Trust is established, a Proof of Claim form should be released within the year.
- Owens Corning/Fibreboard– Owens Corning manufactured insulation products. Fibreboard manufactured a variety of cements, pipecovering and block insulation. The 6th Amended Joint Plan of Reorganization was approved by Judge Judith K. Fitzgerald on November 2, 2006. A Proof of Claim form is expected within the next six months.
- Pittsburgh Corning– This company manufactured an industrial thermal pipe insulation product. On December 21, 2006, Judge Judith K. Fitzgerald denied the Second Amended Plan of Reorganization. Until a Plan is accepted and approved by the Court, no Proof of Claim form will be released.
- W.R. Grace– This company manufactured fireproofing and insulation compounds, including Monokote and Zonolite. Recently, claimants were required to file extensive questionnaires detailing asbestos exposure, and Proof of Claim forms. The Trust is still in the process of determining how much money to allocate to each different claim level, and it is unclear when payment can be expected on W.R. Grace claims.