Trust funds provide a way for asbestos exposure victims to receive compensation.
There is an established process for claiming asbestos trust fund money.
Trust funds are created by asbestos companies that have become bankrupt.
Mesothelioma victims may be eligible to file claims against one or more trust funds.
Asbestos Trust Claim Process
There are five basic steps in filing a claim against an asbestos trust fund. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer who understands the claim process can help you receive the maximum compensation available to you.
Step 1: Eligibility
Asbestos trusts require claimants to prove their asbestos exposure occurred from working at a particular job site during a certain time frame or while using specific products. Many mesothelioma trusts also have other criteria to help set a basic guideline for exposure and medical qualifications. Your attorney will be able to explain the specific criteria of each trust.
Step 2: Preparation
If you meet the eligibility requirements, you then need to gather evidence to corroborate your claim. Medical records proving you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, as well as a statement from a physician confirming the diagnosis will be needed. Evidence around the exposure site, such as employment records, to confirm the company’s facilities or use of asbestos products led to the exposure will also be required. Other evidence may include union or military service records and witnesses.
Step 3: Filing
Filing claims involves submitting the appropriate forms and documentation gathered in the previous step. Some mesothelioma trusts require paper filings, while others can be done online. Your mesothelioma attorney will be able to handle the filing on your behalf.
Step 4: Review
Once the claim is filed, asbestos bankruptcy trust fund administrators will check it to make sure all the details are present. Reviews can be done on an expedited, individual, or extraordinary basis. With an expedited review, the asbestos claims are processed before other individual claims and checked in a shorter process, which allows mesothelioma victims to receive compensation faster. However, claimants should keep in mind the expedited review results in a standard amount of financial compensation.
Under special circumstances, claimants may receive more money through expedited review due to an extraordinary review. This usually involves a situation where the asbestos victim meets a particular employment criteria, like being employed at the asbestos company for a long period of time. The last type of review, individual review, can take much longer, since administrators review the claim in much more detail. There is no standard compensation amount, which can result in more or less money than with an expedited review.
Step 5: Payment
When a claim is validated, it will be “liquidated,” meaning a specific amount will be assigned to the claim and paid out to the claimant. The amount received depends on the fund and expenses claimed. Trust payments are usually based on a percent the claimant is entitled to. For example, the United States Gypsum Asbestos Trust has a current payment percentage of 25% for both expedited and individual reviews. That means if an asbestos victim is awarded $100,000, they would be paid $25,000 from the trust. These payment percentages can change over time.
How Asbestos Trusts Operate
Trust funds for asbestos-related claims are established by section 524(g) of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy code. Typically, when an asbestos company files for bankruptcy, as part of the proceedings, the court will require them to set up a trust fund to pay any future claimants.
Note that asbestos trust funds are not run by the original asbestos companies, even though the funds are usually named after those companies. In most cases, the original companies have been restructured, bought out, or have failed completely and are no longer in existence.
Instead, asbestos funds are completely separate organizations managed by boards of trustees who are required to make sure that the funds make appropriate payments to victims of asbestos exposure. The trustees are also responsible for making sure that the fund is adequately funded for future claims.
Selected Asbestos Funds
More than 115 asbestos companies have filed for bankruptcy since the early 1980s, and as a result, nearly 60 asbestos trust funds have been created.
Johns-Manville Corporation was the first company to go bankrupt due to asbestos lawsuits and was required to set up a trust fund. While some trust funds are no longer in existence, an estimated $37 billion is still set aside in dozens of funds today.
United States Gypsum Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust
One of the largest trusts ever established, the U.S. Gypsum Asbestos Fund was created in 2006 after the United States Gypsum Company reorganized as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. For 100 years, U.S. Gypsum had manufactured a variety of construction materials, including drywall, ceiling panels, joint tape, insulation boards, molding plaster, cement, paint, and many other items. Some of these contained asbestos, exposing factory workers, construction workers, and individuals who lived or worked in buildings where these materials were used.
Pittsburgh Corning Corporation Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
Another large trust fund, the Pittsburgh Corning Corporation (PCC) Asbestos Trust was created as part of the 16-year bankruptcy proceedings of PCC, a joint venture between PPG Industries Inc. and Corning Inc. Among other things, the company manufactured Unibestos, a pipe insulation product containing amosite asbestos that was used widely in mills, power plants, ships, and elsewhere. The final reorganization plan was approved in 2016, with the expectation of trust fund payments coming shortly thereafter. The fund was seeded with both cash and stock contributions worth an estimated $3.5 billion.
Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust
The Johns-Manville Corporation was the first company to go bankrupt due to asbestos litigation, and as such, many later bankruptcies by other asbestos companies have been modeled after the rules established at the beginning. Created in 1988, the Manville Trust was intended to provide payments to individuals harmed by the asbestos in Johns-Manville products, which included a wide array of construction and industrial products. Unfortunately, although seeded with $2.5 billion, even that amount was not enough to cover the vast exposures that occurred. As a result, the trust has severely reduced the amount of money that claimants receive.
Learn More About Asbestos Trust Funds
If you or a loved one has mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness, you may be eligible to receive compensation from one of the more than 50 trust funds that have been created over the last several decades. Fill out the form below to receive a free information packet and talk to an expert about what trust funds may be available to you.