back to top

We’ve updated our privacy notice and cookie policy. Learn more about cookies, including how to disable them, and find out how we collect your personal data and what we use it for.


Almost A Century Of Asbestos Across The U.S. - How Will Regulations Of The Toxic Asbestos Industry Effect Asbestos Claims In 2017?

There is a potential loss of the battle to ban asbestos nationwide with inauguration of president-elect Donald J. Trump along with a republican majority in the House and Senate.

Posted on

There is also a changing EPA, changing cabinet with altering environmental laws and policies along with a changing court system with replacement of federal judges and our new president’s business policy goals outweighing environmental protections. For many people around the nation there comes the question of how will rules protecting them from asbestos exposure and its risks be handled moving forward.

Within his years in real estate and business, many statements have come from our president-elect Donald J. Trump on the benefits of asbestos within any and every building across the nation. There is Trump’s 1997-published book,The Art of Comeback, he presents the opinion of asbestos as a conspiracy of mob-run companies to remove asbestos from the construction industry.

Then in 2012 there was a twitter message from Trump that stated “If we didn’t remove incredibly fire-retardant asbestos and replace it with junk that doesn’t work the World Trade Center would never have burned down.”

This increased mesothelioma lawsuit from a lot of people on US soil finishing with large amount of asbestos lawsuit settlement’s.

These tweets show a lack of concern for the health effects of asbestos exposure which is the same theme that caused the current wave of litigation against the asbestos industry and may cause further risk to families of asbestos exposure in the future resulting in more litigation over asbestos exposure illnesses.

With Changes in EPA and Government, What will be our Changed Approach to Asbestos Litigation?

With much to be realized about contemporary asbestos regulations including the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, H.R. 2576, there has been much seen about the government’s addressing national acknowledgement of asbestos as a highly dangerous mineral, ingrained into so many materials found in everyday life.

While it was being added to the list of top ten materials to be evaluated, the inclusion of our nation’s government has recently entered a stage of updates… with the upcoming inauguration underway there is much to be expected. While many of those believing in the need for cautious prevention of asbestos, there is still an overall positive eye on the factor.

With H.R.1927, Fairness in Class Action Litigation and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2016 much has been gained in the ability of American residents and their attorneys to clearly and accurately file asbestos-related claims based upon any disturbing results throughout life.

While it was considered for many years to be an effective chemical and material, it was hidden from the American people that long-term illness was a result of even the slightest exposure to asbestos.

One of the evaluative effects of this point is that president-elect Donald J. Trump has in fact been positive, not about the ban or awareness on effects of asbestos, but on its safety. This has been reported in several places, making it quite apparent that these acts and legal affairs will not progress without serious push by the existing congress members looking to have the toxic minerals banned from use.

Asbestos Grows Through the Centuries - Beneficial to Big Business; Detrimental to Health…

Asbestos has been an incredible benefit to a number of industries for well over a century now. Even though mining began as far back as 4000 years, late in the 19th century the development of asbestos-built products helped with heat and fire prevention through all sorts of construction, along with insulation and barriers against electricity, sound, water and more.

The qualities of heat and fire resistance in construction eventually spread its ease of use in other material composition such as clothing, covering of pipes and metal gaskets and even pavement and concrete. While the fibrous insulation that was created independently from asbestos fibers, the different types of asbestos fibrils were embedded into different materials, from cloth to cement, to help with its very many beneficial qualities.

By the middle of the 19th century, the international realization of the benefits of asbestos fibers had reached North America, where mining and manufacturing began. One of the first appearances of American asbestos was mining by the Johns Company in Staten Island, New York, in 1858.

From that point on production and manufacturing of asbestos and asbestos-based products grew so rather quickly. There was much to expect in the benefits of these materials for the construction and other industries where these products would be used, but the challenges and risks would arise as well.

Before too long it was found that the individuals working in mining asbestos, manufacturing asbestos-based products, living in homes where asbestos was released into the air and even the community residents near those mines and factories, were at large risk of deadly health dangers from the inhalation and absorption.

By the 1920s and 1930s the rise of mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer and other health risks were found rather quickly. These risks went mostly ignored by the asbestos industry resulting in harm to people’s health for a long period of time afterwards.

While American Industry Develops, Benefits of Asbestos Outweigh Dangers ]to Health

One of these occasions of a large breakout of asbestosis occurred in Libby, Montana. Vermiculite had been mined in Libby back to 1919, and W.R. Grace & Company eventually took over the mines in 1963.

Although the health risks of asbestos, the vermiculite, had been informed to W.R. Grace dating back to the initial findings they did not take any action to warn the residents of Libby upon taking over the mines and allowed mining to continue without any further care.

Unfortunately, horrible results took over for many years against many residents of the town who did not even work in the mines. It was not until about 1999, when the EPA stepped in to take action that finally some notice was given and patients were informed of the true basis of their cancer and other illnesses that arose from the asbestos mines.

Twentieth Century Asbestos Regulations

With much to be said about almost a century since medical professionals first found the negative effects of asbestos, it has only been a little over forty years since these cases first entered the American courtroom.

With cities like Libby and other mines, factories, shipyards and other locations frequently exposing the population to the deadly results of this user-friendly fibrous material, the majority of the country believed the source of these cancers to be already known.

With years spent in trust of American attorneys, congressmen and others, it leaves much to be wondered where issues just like this will progress in the future of the changing government.

While the first official case for asbestos related disease was filed in Beaumont, Texas in December of 1966, it did not officially proceed to trial until 1969 for Mr. Claude Tomplait against over eleven defendants.

This was only one of many cases to initially fall at a loss, but the attorney did not give up. Ward Stephenson later took the case of one of Tompait’s colleagues to trial in 1973 against another large set of defendants and walked away in favor of this client, Clarence Borel.

From there the wheels have continued to turn, with asbestos litigation growing steadily into the 1990s and now in the 21st century. We still have an incredible amount of development that can be made both on behalf of the employees and families who have faced different effects of asbestos in their lives.

There is More to Asbestos Litigation than a single claim against one Employer or Manufacturer

While several companies across the country provide trust funds helping treat former employees, litigation requires great time and care. Several companies like W.R. Grace, Johns-Manville, UNR Industries and Scott’s Lawn Care spent years manufacturing and mining asbestos, affecting employees, customers and nearby residents. It is valuable for patients to file bankruptcy trust claims from companies that placed this fatal toxin among everyday life.

Even with the best attorneys it's not always possible to sue a company that has been negligent. A special provision of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code protects certain companies from asbestos lawsuits. Though unable to sue a reorganized company under this provision, legal options remain. Claims can be filed against an active asbestos bankruptcy trust.

Congress may soon make it difficult for asbestos victims to access trust funds. House legislation has been presented to increase required reporting obligations for funds, especially considering the growing side of first-responder claims. So, it is important that claimants seek out qualified attorneys. Protecting asbestos companies from lawsuits seems unfair, but bankruptcy reorganization ensures compensation for current and future claimants.

Given the long delay for mesothelioma diagnosis Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection is sought out by companies expecting endless claims. Since then, 50 asbestos bankruptcy trusts were created by 100 more companies. Asbestos victims, and their families, qualify for compensation from the company responsible for exposure.

For companies without bankruptcy protection lawsuits must be filed directly to obtain compensation. In 1994, Congress enacted section 524(g) of the Bankruptcy Code, allowing companies with asbestos liabilities to establish and fund trusts similar to the Manville Trust. The Government Accountability Office estimates about 60 asbestos trust funds with $37 billion in assets to pay claims.

It has been reported that the Manville Trust paid nearly $4.3 billion for almost 797,000 asbestos claims since its establishment in 1988. Without bankruptcy protection, Johns Manville would have folded before compensating thousands of victims. Because of the trust, the company stayed open and developed other businesses. In 2012 alone, the trust paid more than $146 million to settle approximately 27,800 asbestos exposure claims.

"Trust agreements" are required between the trust, asbestos liabilities and the company, funding the trust amount approved by the court. The trust reviews and pays claims separate from the company. Trustees supervise trust operations, investing assets for enough money to pay future claims. The trustees also prepare reports to the court, detailing its assets and amount of claims paid.

A bankruptcy trust claim requires eligibility for compensation, with evaluation and payments determined by trust procedures. The procedures distribute trust funds evenly between claimants to ensure everyone is paid. Claimants often complain about the delay in receiving payments.

Trust funds generally pay a limited amount of money per year. So, for claims approved after annual funds have run out, there is a waiting list for payments once trust distributions resume.

Trust funds payouts should continue in 2017 and beyond. It is unknown what changes will occur legislatively that will affect your ability to be compensated for your asbestos exposure claim.

However, with Republicans in full control of the government there may be some changes with regards to environmental policy and tort reform initiatives with a focus on protecting the interests of big business.

It is important to monitor the situation and complain to your elected officials about proposals that may limit your abilities to file lawsuits and be compensated for the toxic exposures caused to you.

This post was created by a member of BuzzFeed Community, where anyone can post awesome lists and creations. Learn more or post your buzz!