Claims Slow with Owens Corning Asbestos Trust

An article in the Toledo Blade reports that attorneys and their clients who submit claims to the Owens Corning Asbestos Trust for compensation for asbestos-related diseases should be prepared to wait for their money.

The problem, reports attorney Jimmy Rodgers, is not those who run the trust but rather the number of claims made against the trust. According to the article, “since starting in late October, 2006, the trust has paid $390 million on 70,000 claims submitted by people – primarily construction workers, ship-builders, and others – who developed lung diseases from working around asbestos-containing insulation and other products once made by Toledo-based Owens Corning and its Fibreboard subsidiary.”

The trust was established as a result of Owens Corning’s six year bankruptcy case. The company contributed several billion dollars worth of cash and stock to the trust in order to compensate the victims. The trust has received an additional 256,000 claims and faces new demands for compensation daily, the article explains.

“The ultimate number of asbestos … claims to be filed and the liability for all such claims is not determinable at this time,” trustees wrote. “The net assets available for the payment of claims at Dec. 31, 2007, may or may not be sufficient to meet all future obligations of the trust,” said the first detailed financial report on the trust, filed in Delaware earlier this spring.

Owens Corning asbestos claimants and their attorneys continue to be concerned that the company’s asbestos fund may go the way of a similar trust at Johns-Manville, which was under-funded. The lack of funding resulted in a trimming of compensation payments to asbestos victims.

But so far, says Rodgers, a Chattanooga attorney, things are going well with the OC trust. “By and large, I’m fairly pleased with how it’s operated,” he said of the trust and the procedure to obtain compensation, which includes the option of filing a claim via the internet.

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