In the April 14 entry below, I summarized the scope of this month’s conference in Hong Kong and mentioned my presentation during Plenary Session 2. I was particularly pleased to be invited to also give a two-hour workshop that same afternoon titled “Break-Out Session 1 – Filing Asian Claims with U.S. Bankruptcy Trusts.” During this workshop, it is my hope that I will be able to teach representatives from non-governmental organizations, local victims’ groups, local industrial and trade union groups, and other community representatives, as well as local attorneys from throughout Asia, enough about the structure and procedures of the U.S. Bankruptcy Trust Funds to enable them to comfortably undertake the representation of Asian asbestos victims without the need to hire and pay American lawyers. I have long believed that it makes more sense for this work to be done locally and not by American lawyers – I said as much at the International Mesothelioma Interest Group conference in Amsterdam last year and I continue to believe that today. During that two-hour presentation, I will explain the organization and structure of the bankruptcy trusts and how the claims process works. Using the Babcock & Wilcox Asbestos Trust as a model, I will walk the attendees through the claims criteria and go step by step through the Proof of Claim form, explaining in detail how the forms have to be completed and how the necessary information can be obtained. Attention will be paid to using Trusts’ approved site lists and ways to establish responsibility at sites that are unlisted. I will include a brief introduction to researching the history of ocean-going vessels and where to find information about asbestos exposure. I will also discuss how to establish the various elements of economic and non-economic damage that go into the process of valuing claims.
It is my hope that at the conclusion of this workshop, those in attendance will have developed a sufficient comfort level to begin the process of preparing and submitting Trust claims for asbestos victims in their communities.