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 funds can be an option for some asbestos victims to recover mesothelioma compensation for the negligence of asbestos manufacturers. Asbestos bankruptcy trust funds may be formed when an asbestos company files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. As part of these proceedings, the company must set up a fund to provide compensation for current and future claims. Today, there are about 60 active trust funds with over $30 billion available for claimants.
Asbestos Trust Fund Payouts
When considering filing a claim against a particular asbestos trust fund, claimants often wonder how much compensation they could receive. The amount of compensation available differs between each fund, as well as the specific claim being made. As with other types of mesothelioma claims, administrators of the trust fund will consider medical expenses, lost wages, other treatment-related costs like travel, and the pain and suffering caused by a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Though the amount of compensation is determined similarly, the payouts from mesothelioma trust funds operate differently in that only a percentage of a total compensation amount can be paid. Because trusts are required to have funds available for future asbestos claims, most trust funds are unable to fully pay out a claim. Instead, trust fund administrators will determine what each claimant is entitled to, and they will be paid a percentage of that amount.
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.
Filing an Asbestos Trust Fund Claim
Before filing a trust claim, mesothelioma patients and their loved ones should talk to an experienced lawyer to better understand all of their legal options for compensation. In some cases, claimants may be able to file claims against multiple asbestos trust funds, or have a claim against a trust and a mesothelioma lawsuit against another defendant. However, having multiple claims can impact the amount of compensation received, making it crucial to work with a law firm to ensure claimants choose the best option for their individual case.
The first step to file an asbestos trust fund claim is making sure the mesothelioma victim matches the specific fund’s criteria. While each fund may have slightly different requirements to file a claim, there are some basic guidelines that most funds have in place.
Asbestos Trust Fund Eligibility
- Proof asbestos exposure occurred from working at a particular job site during a certain time, or
- Proof asbestos exposure occurred while using specific products
- Documentation of diagnosis, including x-rays and biopsies
A mesothelioma lawyer can provide the specific eligibility requirements for each trust fund. If a claimant meets the criteria, the lawyer can also help gather the required documents and evidence for the claim. Documents may include proof of employment, military service records when applicable and medical records, including a physician’s statement confirming the asbestos disease diagnosis.
Filing the Claim for Review
Once all the necessary evidence and documentation has been gathered, the appropriate files can be submitted for review by the trust fund’s administrators. Reviews can be done on an expedited, individual, or extraordinary basis.
- Claims are processed after particular criteria has been met and before other individual claims
- Claims are reviewed in a shorter process
- Claimants may receive compensation faster
- Expedited claims have a standard amount of compensation allowed
- Special cases where the claim meets criteria for expedited review, but is treated like an individual review
- Claimant typically must meet particular employment criteria (i.e. duration of employment at a specific company)
- Payouts may be higher than with an expedited review
- Claimants do not meet the additional criteria for an expedited review
- Administrators review the claim in much more detail
- Payout may be more or less than the compensation available with an expedited review
Payment of the Claim
After administrators determine the claim meets the requirements for compensation, the claim may 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, and will also vary depending on the payment percentage of the specific trust fund. Reports estimate that from 2006 through 2012, the entire trust system paid out over $15 billion to asbestos claimants.
Select Asbestos Trust 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. Asbestos funds are completely separate organizations from the asbestos companies they are named after, managed by boards of trustees who are required to ensure the funds make appropriate payments to victims of asbestos exposure. The trustees are also responsible for making sure the fund is adequately funded for future claimants, per bankruptcy code proceedings.
Johns-Manville Corporation was the first company to go bankrupt due to asbestos lawsuits and was required to set up a trust fund in 1988 with $2.5 billion. Because it was one of the largest asbestos manufacturers of the time, payouts have been stopped on two occasions because of the high number of claims against the funds. While some trust funds are no longer in existence, an estimated $37 billion is still set aside in dozens of funds today.
Current payment percentage: 25%
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 protection. For 100 years, the National Gypsum Company 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.
Current Payment Percentage: 30.1%
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 products, 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.
Current Payment Percentage: 9 – 11.1%
Owens Corning/Fibreboard Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
The Owens Corning Fibreboard Asbestos Personal Injury Trust was formed in October 2006 as a result of bankruptcy proceedings for Owens Corning and its subsidiary, Fibreboard. The company was known for its success in creating fiberglass, home insulation and other asbestos products. The company grew rapidly, at one point employing over 29,000 people in the 1980s, suggesting thousands of people were potentially exposed to asbestos on the job.
Current Payment Percentage: 26%
W.R. Grace and Co Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
W.R. Grace and Co was a huge manufacturer and distributor of asbestos products, creating all kinds of building materials with the toxin, like cements and adhesives. The company was later found to be a gross polluter of asbestos at many of its facilities, leading to the creation of a Superfund Site in Libby, Montana. Because of so many asbestos lawsuits against the company in later years, they filed for bankruptcy in 2001.
Other Large Asbestos Trust Funds
- DII Industries: $2.5 billion in initial assets
- Armstrong World Industries: $2 billion in initial assets
- Western Asbestos (Western MacArthur): $2 billion in initial assets
- Babcock & Wilcox: $1.8 billion in initial assets
- Owens Corning Fibreboard Subfund: $1.5 billion in initial assets