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Two U.S. Mineral Companies Assessed $22 Million in Wrongful Death Case Involving Undisclosed Asbestos in Talc Powder

OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 20, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood announced today what they believe to be the first asbestos-containing industrial talc verdict in California against San-Jose-based Imerys Talc America, Inc. and Vanderbilt Minerals, LLC headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut.

The jury returned the verdict on final punitive damages on December 11, 2017. Following a six week trial, on November 27, 2017, a jury in Oakland, CA found in Booker v. Imerys Talc America, Inc. and Vanderbilt Minerals, LLC, Case No. RG15796166, Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, that Vanderbilt and Imerys were negligent and strictly liable for the wrongful death of Richard Booker. In a bench trial, the trial court had previously held that Imerys was liable for the asbestos-containing talc sales of a predecessor entity, Cyprus Mines.

Additionally, the jury found that both Vanderbilt and Imerys had acted with malice, oppression and fraud. The jury awarded $17.5 million in compensatory damages to the Booker family, 60% allocated to Vanderbilt, and 40% allocated to Imerys. Vanderbilt settled with the Plaintiffs after the first phase of trial, and before the jury could assess punitive damages as to Vanderbilt. The jury awarded $4.6 million in punitive damages against Imerys.

Mr. Booker, who died at the age of 72 from a mesothelioma cancer, worked for decades as a paint tinter and mixer making paints.

“Vanderbilt and Imerys marketed their talc for over fifty years to the paint, ceramics, and cosmetic industries, but never disclosed that it contained asbestos,” said lead attorney Joe Satterley. “We were able to uncover their internal, confidential documents showing that they knew their talc contained asbestos, and yet sold it without any warnings. In fact, they did the opposite—they falsely assured their customers that their talc did not contain asbestos.”

At trial, Mr. Satterley showed the jury that medical doctors had found the same ingredients comprising Vanderbilt and Imerys’ asbestos-containing talc in Mr. Booker’s lung tissue. Also, the jury was shown testimony from Imerys executives proving that Imerys had re-blended its talc to try to hide the asbestos content.

This is the first time that Imerys has been found liable for punitive damages for its sale of asbestos-containing talc. Vanderbilt has previously been found liable in Kentucky, New York, and New Jersey for its marketing of asbestos-containing talc. Mr. Booker’s widow testified at trial that she and Mr. Booker chose to bring this lawsuit to prevent companies from harming workers such as her husband in the future.

Nationally Recognized Pioneers in Asbestos Litigation: Since its founding in 1974, Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood has represented thousands of people suffering from asbestos related illnesses, particularly mesothelioma. Our principals are among the most experienced mesothelioma lawyers in the country.

What Is An Asbestos Trust Fund?

In an effort to escape their massive legal liabilities, many large companies that used asbestos in their products or working environments have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In order to make sure that victims of asbestos-related diseases are compensated fairly, the U.S. Congress has determined that these companies must establish an asbestos trust fund when they file for bankruptcy protection. This ensures that future victims will be able to get the financial compensation they deserve.
 

History of Asbestos as a Material

Beginning in the 1800s, asbestos became widely used by a variety of manufacturers because it was cheap, flexible, and durable. It was also a material that provided insulation and was fireproof. Construction, shipbuilding, and manufacturing companies in particular began using the material in large quantities.
 

Asbestos Lawsuits

A hundred years ago, the industry knew asbestos was killing people. By 1940, they knew it caused cancer, and by 1960, companies were well aware of the connection between asbestos and mesothelioma. This affected a variety of companies, including those that produced products containing asbestos, or those who used asbestos in their operations. Since the link between lung disease and asbestos was clear, these companies began to be overwhelmed with lawsuits from the people they had exposed to asbestos. As a result, many of these companies felt they had no choice but to file for bankruptcy.
 

Establishment of Trust Funds

Many companies filing for bankruptcy hoped that they would be able to limit their asbestos liability. Thanks to section 524(g) of the bankruptcy code under Chapter 11,the legal system did not allow them to entirely escape their obligations to their victims. Companies were ordered to establish asbestos trust funds, which were to be run as separate organizations requiring new trustees, separate from the original company.
 

Determining Claim Eligibility

The most essential requirement necessary in order to file a claim to a trust fund is the ability to prove that the victim was exposed to a certain company or product that contained asbestos, and was diagnosed with an asbestos related disease as a result. Every trust fund is able to set its own eligibility criteria, and the best way to determine if you are eligible is to contact an experienced attorney who specializes in trust fund related claims.
 

Receiving Payment

If your claim is approved, the trust will make a payment offer to you and your attorney. This is typically a percentage of the full value that has been allotted to whichever lung disease that you might have. For example, when a trust was established, schedules were set for claimants with mesothelioma, different amounts established for those with asbestos lung cancer and other amounts for other asbestos diseases

If you or your loved one has been a victim of asbestos exposure, it’s important to seek the help of a trusted and experienced legal professional. You will most likely be dealing with companies who have years of experience in trying to pay as little possible to their victims. While the establishment of the trust funds does provide you some protection, having a skilled professional on your side can greatly increase your chance of receiving fair compensation.

Mesothelioma Payouts and State of Residency

mesothelioma payoutsMesothelioma payouts are among the most important aspects of mesothelioma lawsuits.  Receiving monetary compensation for the horrific harm done to someone by knowingly exposing them to asbestos is a way to attempt to balance the scales of justice.

Why Mesothelioma Payouts Vary Within the United States

But substantial mesothelioma payouts are not a foregone conclusion.  Many factors play a role in the outcome of a case, including the financial settlement. A key factor is the state in which the case is tried. Although we have a federal government in the United States, each of the 50 states maintains the right to do certain things their own way. The laws regarding mesothelioma cases and mesothelioma payouts are extremely complicated with major variations among the states.

Some states unfortunately have state legislatures that have been successfully lobbied by business interests to unfairly stack the deck against mesothelioma victims.  These states have placed extra hurdles in the way of mesothelioma victims receiving fair mesothelioma payouts.

In addition, juries are more likely to issue higher awards and settlements in major cities where the economies are strong and the cost of living is high. We have seen this firsthand in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Kazan Law is based.

How an Experienced Mesothelioma Attorney Can Help With State Differences

The good news is that an experienced mesothelioma attorney with expertise in how states differ in processing mesothelioma lawsuits can help achieve the highest possible mesothelioma payout.  The best mesothelioma lawyers are knowledgeable about mesothelioma laws in each state and are eligible to provide excellent legal representation to victims on a nationwide basis.

Kazan Law is a pioneering law firm in the area of asbestos law.  With over 40 years of experience in winning some of the highest mesothelioma payouts for victims, Kazan Law consistently receives the commendations for excellence from our colleagues and clients.

State Residency and Mesothelioma Settlement Amounts

Even though two mesothelioma victims both may have strong cases, the mesothelioma payouts each receives may vary greatly depending on the state in which their attorneys file their lawsuits. A mesothelioma victim may not realize this but they may have several options of where to file their lawsuit.

If, for example, your asbestos exposure occurred to you when you were in the U.S. Navy, you may file your lawsuit in the city where you were stationed.  If that was in the San Francisco Bay Area, we can file the case here even if you have never lived here.  Or if the company responsible for your asbestos exposure has a main office located in the San Francisco Bay Area, you could also file here. The value of your case would be much higher in California, due to the higher costs of living, than it may be where you live.

Here is information about how several key states differ on mesothelioma lawsuits.

New York has had the highest number of asbestos lawsuits in the country because asbestos manufacturing there dates back to the 1880s.  State laws here have focused on improving worker and workplace safety. Kazan Law’s founding partner Steven Kazan has been licensed to practice law in New York since 1967.

Pennsylvania, like New York, has a history of asbestos manufacturing dating back for many decades. It remains one of five states in the U.S. with the highest number of mesothelioma and asbestos-related lawsuits. Because they felt that these cases were clogging their court system, Pennsylvania legislators introduced new limiting procedures. Kazan Law partner Joe Satterley is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania.

Ohio has been another key state for asbestos lawsuits. But about 15 years ago, Ohio lawmakers added new restrictions for filing asbestos lawsuits.  Ohio now also provides assistance not to mesothelioma victims but to the companies facing asbestos lawsuits. This could present additional challenges for mesothelioma victims.

Texas passed many new laws within the last few decades and its courts have made unfavorable rulings to prevent mesothelioma victims from achieving the justice they deserve.

Florida passed the Asbestos and Silica Compensation Fairness Act in 2005. This law added to the evidence required regarding a victim’s asbestos exposure and subsequent illness.

What Affects The Total Amount of Mesothelioma Payouts?

Besides which state a mesothelioma lawsuit is filed in, other important factors can have an impact on the amount of a settlement. The following conditions typically help determine mesothelioma payouts:

Medical diagnosis and expenses: these are  important elements affecting a mesothelioma case and are directly linked to the specific diagnosis and follow-up costs of medical treatment. Kazan Law makes sure that all medical expenses are included in mesothelioma payouts for clients.

Other expenses and bills: Besides medical expenses, bills and living costs may build up once mesothelioma interferes with a patient’s ability to work. Overdue bills, accounts in collection and other expenses can overwhelm someone all ready suffering the ill health effects of mesothelioma. Being reimbursed for these types of bills and expenses is an important part of mesothelioma payouts. People who are victims of negligence should not have to pay expenses for an illness caused by someone else.

Lost wages due to illness: When mesothelioma stops someone from being able to work, they are entitled to be compensated for their lost wages. Missed years of work can often add up to a very significant amount of money.

Personal distress (physical and mental): Clearly, suffering from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases wreaks utter havoc on the quality of life. Personal distress, both physical and mental, impacts mesothelioma payout amounts. Kazan Law fully understands the devastation caused by mesothelioma and strives to obtain the largest mesothelioma payouts for mesothelioma victims and their families and often can win extra damages to punish guilty businesses.

What to Expect from Mesothelioma Payouts

Many factors, including the state where a mesothelioma lawsuit is filed and other factors specific to each case determine the amounts of mesothelioma payouts. Kazan Law has a proud history of obtaining the absolute fullest mesothelioma payouts for clients, sometimes totaling into tens of millions of dollars. We understand the difference in state laws regarding mesothelioma cases and are licensed to practice in several states.

Even when you first talk with a Kazan Law attorney, you’ll get a better understanding of your case and the factors that are in your favor. The state where you currently live need not determine where your lawsuit is filed.

Our attorneys make every client a priority. Our asbestos law firm has extensive experience in the most appropriate state jurisdiction possible to obtain the highest amount of mesothelioma payouts.

 

 

 

 

 

3 Major Mesothelioma Lawsuit Payouts

Mesothelioma lawsuit payouts do not ever right the wrong that has been done to you and other mesothelioma victims. One cannot and should not place a dollar amount on the value of a human life thinking that the money is an adequate substitute. That is not only impossible to do, it is morally bankrupt.  However, mesothelioma lawsuit payouts do provide a means of achieving some justice for mesothelioma victims and their families, and usually is the best The Court system can do.

If you are contemplating filing a lawsuit as a mesothelioma victim, it is because you have received a medical diagnosis confirming that you have mesothelioma. That means an individual or a group of individuals knowingly chose to expose you to asbestos, the only known cause of mesothelioma. They knew of the possible lethal consequences of asbestos exposure but opted to gamble with your life because it was profitable for them to do so.  Mesothelioma lawsuit payouts are intended to make sure the perpetrators do not get away with it.

Mesothelioma lawsuit payouts can accomplish:

  • Penalizing those who knowingly harmed you
  • Paying your medical expenses
  • Providing your family with financial security and support in the future

Three Types of Mesothelioma Lawsuit Payouts

There are three types of mesothelioma lawsuit payouts. What type of payout you will receive may depend on the manner in which your lawsuit is able to move forward.

The three types of mesothelioma claims payouts are:

  1. Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts
  2. Settlements
  3. Verdicts

Basically, if some of the companies  whose asbestos hurt you have harmed so many people that they have had to face a large number of lawsuits filed against them by other people with mesothelioma, they may have declared bankruptcy.  Bankruptcy allows them to set up a bankruptcy trust from which everyone who they hurt can collect money. If some of the companies are still in business, and you know that the case you have against them is a solid one, they may opt to settle out of court with you. But if they are willing to take a chance that you do not have enough solid evidence for your case against them, they may want to fight the case in court. If our firm is handling your case, they would be taking a foolish chance because we do not take a case unless we believe we can win it. When the case is won in a trial, the mesothelioma lawsuit payout ends in a verdict, which becomes a judgement you can collect.

Mesothelioma Lawsuit Payouts From Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts

As we said above, mesothelioma payouts from asbestos bankruptcy trusts occur primarily because the company responsible has caused so many cases of mesothelioma that they fund a trust to protect their assets and limit the amount of money each mesothelioma victim can receive.

Because mesothelioma symptoms may not emerge for decades following the exposure to asbestos, asbestos trusts must protect the interests of mesothelioma victims who come forward later. It assures that there will be a legally approved fund of money to compensate each mesothelioma victim whom the company has harmed.

At present in the United States, funds have been set aside in 50 different trusts to compensate current and future victims of asbestos-related illnesses.  These trust funds together contain approximately $32 billion available to asbestos victims.

Each mesothelioma lawsuit payout from a trust will be calculated based on the value of each case and  the amount of money in that trust divided by the number of current cases and the predicted number or future cases. The average total Trust payout for a shipyard or construction worker who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma is around $260,000. Surprisingly, the amount received can vary.  It takes a skilled attorney to ensure that a mesothelioma patient receives the largest amount possible within the parameters set by the trust.

Mesothelioma Lawsuit Payouts from Settlements

Mesothelioma lawsuit payouts from settling a case out of court offers major advantages over taking a case to trial; speed and certainty, Mesothelioma can be a swift-moving merciless illness.  Accepting a settlement rather than going to trial can resolve matters more quickly.  It is true that a settlement amount may be lower than one awarded by a jury, but you will receive compensation sooner.  Trial verdicts often get appealed which even further prolongs the process.  Negotiating a settlement can help get your money faster to help with medical bills and make up for lost income.

A settlement agreement may be negotiated at any point before or even during trial, but they mostly occur after both sides have exchanged documents through the discovery process. Negotiations may take several weeks or several months. At Kazan Law, our goal is to achieve settlements that allow our clients and their families to maintain their quality of life and achieve goals that may have been set aside by asbestos-related illness. In determining a good settlement, we take into account the emotional and financial stress caused by a family member’s mesothelioma; especially when a wage earner has to stop working due to illness.

While every case is unique, Kazan Law has negotiated some of the highest asbestos-related settlement payments for our clients. We keep our clients’ settlement amounts confidential, but we can tell you that we negotiated large settlements for a pilot who was exposed to asbestos in an airplane hangar and an electrical worker exposed to asbestos on the job at a PG&E power plant.

Mesothelioma Lawsuit Payouts: Verdicts

When a case proceeds to trial, Kazan Law works to schedule a trial as soon as possible for our clients. Unfortunately it can take months or sometimes years for your case to go before a jury. You will need to be at the trial if you are able to appear. You also may have to testify in court. If a jury agrees on a verdict in your favor, your mesothelioma lawsuit payout may not be immediate. Defendants often choose to appeal, drawing out the process. It is not uncommon, however, for parties to come to a settlement during or even after trial.

Trial outcomes are difficult to predict. Juries can decide in your favor but with an award lower than expected.  Or a judge may reduce the mesothelioma lawsuit payout set by the jury. But juries are likely to be supportive of a mesothelioma victim and the mesothelioma lawsuit payout from a verdict may be higher than could have been achieved through settling out of court. This payout may include punitive damages added by the jury.

Kazan Law has won substantial verdicts for clients from companies in jury trials. We won over $20 million for a woman whose mesothelioma was traced to asbestos in the flooring of her childhood home. We won a $20,500,000 mesothelioma lawsuit payout for a former employee of a plant that produced pipes lined with asbestos. Over the course of the four decades we have represented asbestos victims, Kazan Law has won verdicts and settlements which represent hundreds of millions of dollars to our clients. Learn more about how we can help you and your family receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us for a free no obligation evaluation.

 

 

 

What Are Asbestos Compensation Claims?

asbestos compensation claimsMesothelioma is a particularly unforgiving form of cancer. Its victims usually succumb to the disease within one to two years. Sometimes the end may come much more quickly. There may be no time to pursue compensation while a family member is still living unless the family acts quickly. Ensuring proper healthcare and that your loved one is as comfortable as possible are your top priorities. This doesn’t change the fact that when someone in your family passes away due to mesothelioma, caused by asbestos, or another asbestos disease, you are likely to have very valuable asbestos compensation claims against the corporations responsible for exposing your loved one to asbestos.

After mesothelioma has claimed the life of your loved one, it is not too late to pursue asbestos compensation claims. You can file a type of lawsuit called a wrongful death lawsuit.

The Purpose of Wrongful Death Lawsuits

When you lose a family member to mesothelioma or other asbestos disease, you can file asbestos compensation claims for your own losses and on behalf of your loved one. Your claims may include the loss of future financial support and wages, the cost of medical bills, and the pain and suffering experienced between the diagnosis and the death of your family member. If the person you have lost was your spouse, you may be able to recover damages due to loss of consortium. This category of damages covers the loss of emotional support and comfort that the death has cost you.

The Basics of Asbestos Compensation Claims After Death

All legal claims are subject to statutes of limitations. This means that you need to take action within a certain amount of time or you lose your right to file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims varies from state to state. You will most likely need to file a wrongful death lawsuit within one to three years after the death of your family member due to asbestos exposure. It’s a good idea to consult an experienced asbestos attorney as soon as you can, to be sure you preserve your rights to your asbestos compensation claims.

There are some limits on who has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. You may be able to pursue asbestos compensation claims on behalf of your deceased loved one if you are a close family member: child (natural or adopted), spouse, parent, grandparent, sister, or brother.

If you are not a family member but you relied on the person who died for significant financial support, you may also have valid asbestos compensation claims that you can pursue through a wrongful death lawsuit. You must have a serious financial loss to qualify as financially dependent. California, for example, will allow non-family members to file wrongful death lawsuits if they received, at minimum, half their financial support from the person who died due to asbestos exposure.

Wrongful Death Verdicts and Settlements

Jury trials are not the only way to resolve asbestos compensation claims. About 95% of asbestos lawsuits are completely settled before trial. Settlement is appealing to corporations because it saves them the expense and embarrassment of a jury trial. The responsible companies can provide compensation without admitting guilt, in most cases, and the amount of the settlement is usually confidential.

Settlement is also beneficial for plaintiffs, because it spares you from the process of going through trial, which can be stressful and costly. While settlements are usually smaller than jury verdicts, they make up for this by saving plaintiffs legal costs. A settlement can also be the quickest way for you to get the compensation you need to make up for lost wages and pay medical bills.

There is a third avenue for asbestos compensation claims: asbestos trust funds. A number of companies have filed for bankruptcy due to asbestos lawsuits. Those corporations set up asbestos compensation funds, to pay their victims of asbestos exposure. If your loved one was exposed to asbestos by a corporation which has set up an asbestos trust fund, your attorney can make a wrongful death claim against the fund.

How Large Are Asbestos Compensation Claims After Death?

Like asbestos lawsuits filed by people with mesothelioma, wrongful death lawsuits relating to asbestos compensation claims can result in large payouts. Kazan Law has a track record of gaining large settlements and jury verdicts for its clients. In fact, Kazan Law won the highest wrongful death jury verdict in the State of California in 2014. A Kazan attorney was able to obtain $11.3 million in compensation for the widow and daughters of a man who had died due to exposure to asbestos-lined brakes at his workplace.

The amount you receive will depend on a number of factors, including the age and work prospects of the family member who died, the nature of the illness before death, and the weight of the evidence connecting his or her death to asbestos exposure at the hands of particular corporations. The amount you receive can also vary depending on whether you get it from an asbestos trust fund or through a settlement or verdict. An experienced asbestos attorney can walk you through these factors and help you assess the strength of your claim and the range of compensation you may be likely to receive.

That said, asbestos compensation claims often lead to settlements and verdicts worth millions of dollars.

How Do I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Your most important ally in recovering your asbestos compensation claims after the death of your loved one is your asbestos attorney. Good asbestos attorneys will take your case on a contingency basis. This means that you pay no legal fees unless your attorney is able to win compensation for your wrongful death claims; when you do receive payment, your attorney’s fees are a percentage of that money.

The most important decision you will make after the death of your family member – indeed, one of the most important financial decisions of your life – is the choice of your asbestos law firm. When you work with an experienced asbestos firm with a track record of winning compensation for mesothelioma clients, such as Kazan Law, it can mean the difference of millions of dollars in recovery for your asbestos compensation claims.

How Do Mesothelioma Settlements Work?

mesothelioma settlementsIf you have a mesothelioma diagnosis, you probably have a legal claim against the corporation or corporations that caused your mesothelioma. At some point after you hire an asbestos attorney and file your lawsuit, your lawyer will probably engage in mesothelioma settlements negotiations with some or all of the companies you are suing. Mesothelioma settlements can be quite large

Most Lawsuits End with Mesothelioma Settlements

Mesothelioma settlements are the most common outcome for people who file lawsuits to recover damages for their asbestos-related illness. This mirrors a trend in the legal world at large: the vast majority of lawsuits of all kinds settle before going to trial. Trials make news headlines and exciting TV shows, but settlements make more sense for most plaintiffs.

While jury verdicts are often larger than settlements, they may be reduced on appeal. And of course, no case is a sure winner at trial, some are lost! Trials can take months or even years and that’s time that most mesothelioma patients don’t have. Mesothelioma settlements are often paid more quickly than jury verdicts, so funds can be available to help with mesothelioma care.

How Much Are Typical Mesothelioma Settlements?

One of the reasons that corporations prefer to a settle lawsuit rather than going to trial is that settlement agreements are almost always confidential. The corporation agrees to pay a certain amount of money and, in exchange, you and your lawyer agree not to publicly reveal the amount of the settlement. For this reason, it is hard to give a specific amount for typical mesothelioma settlements.

At Kazan Law, we have decades of experience negotiating mesothelioma settlements. While juries may award plaintiffs with mesothelioma more than they would get in a settlement, settlements can also run in the tens of millions of dollars.

What Factors Affect Mesothelioma Settlements?

Mesothelioma settlements are the result of negotiations between your lawyer and the defendants. When considering whether it makes sense to settle your mesothelioma lawsuit or bring it to trial, you and your asbestos attorney will want to consider several factors.

The first and most important is whether the defendant is willing to negotiate in good faith and to make a reasonable offer. If a corporation refuses to acknowledge its responsibility, a jury trial may be the only way to get the compensation you deserve.

Another important factor is the strength of your case. For example, let’s say that you have named two defendants in your lawsuit: Corporation A and Corporation B. You worked with Corporation A’s products for 12 years repairing machinery in a boiler room where its asbestos insulation was used. Corporation A has been named in other asbestos lawsuits; a number of workers have developed mesothelioma or other asbestos diseases. In fact, one of your former coworkers who used Corporation A’s productsalso has mesothelioma. Your case against Corporation A is strong. You are likely to win at trial against Corporation A. You may decide to settle, but only if the defendant offers fair compensation for your illness.

Now let’s look at Corporation B. You only worked with its  products for three months, at many different sites and you worked around its asbestos only occasionally and for short periods of time  It is possible that your illness was caused or contributed to by your work with Corporation B’s products. However, the link is weaker.

With Corporation A and Corporation B, the strength of your case will affect the amount of the mesothelioma settlements. Your attorney will be able to demonstrate to Corporation A that he or she can present a compelling case to a jury. There is a strong likelihood that you would win a large verdict against Corporation A, so your attorney is more likely to be able to negotiate a large settlement amount with Corporation A. With Corporation B, your lawyer might advise you that a modest mesothelioma settlement is a better option than taking your case against Corporation B to the courtroom.

What is the Timing of Mesothelioma Settlements?

Settlement negotiations can begin almost immediately. However, many parties prefer to wait for the discovery process before considering mesothelioma settlements.

When you file your mesothelioma lawsuit, your attorney will conduct discovery, which is the process of demanding documents from the defendants and developing the facts of your case. The information that comes out in this phase of your lawsuit will help determine the size of mesothelioma settlements with the different defendants.

The timing of settlements varies widely, depending on the willingness of both sides to settle the case and what type of mesothelioma settlements are offered. Some cases settle within a few months. Some may settle the day the case is scheduled to go to trial. This is known as settling on the courtroom steps – and that is sometimes where settlement agreements are reached. Some cases may even settle in the middle of the trial.

One of the most important factors for you to consider about mesothelioma settlements is your health and your energy level. If you can reach a just settlement and end your case early, you can focus on what is really important: your health and your loved ones.

Dallas Morning News Publishes Kazan Law EFH Rebuttal

Kazan Law EFH RebuttalA letter I wrote in rebuttal to the head of a fuel conglomerate’s deceptive open letter to Texans has been published by the Dallas Morning News, the newspaper that originally published the piece by Hunter L. Hunt, chairman and CEO of Hunt Consolidated Energy. The Kazan Law rebuttal letter is another effort to provide all pertinent information to possible EFH asbestos victims.

In his letter, Hunt praised his company’s proposed acquisition of Oncor Electric Delivery Company. But he conveniently left out the fact that because of this acquisition thousands of EFH’s potential asbestos victims have been stripped of significant legal rights.

Hunt Buying Oncor From EFH

Hunt Consolidated put together a deal to take over Oncor, the biggest power distributor in Texas. The deal would help end the $40 billion bankruptcy of Oncor’s parent company Energy Future Holdings (EFH).

EFH is selling Oncor, the primary piece of its portfolio, to the Hunt group for $19 billion as a way to try to get out of bankruptcy. EFH had filed for bankruptcy in April 2014. At that time, it listed liabilities of over $40 billion.

EFH has accepted Hunt’s purchase offer. If the deal wins approval by the Texas Public Utilities Commission, EFH would be split into two companies owned by different sets of lenders.

Hunt would get Oncor, which sends power to more than 3 million Texas customers over 119,000 miles of power lines.

Hunt is the lead of a group of investors seeking to participate in the purchase. The Hunt group includes Anchorage Capital Group, Arrowgrass Capital Partners, Avenue Capital Group, BlackRock, Centerbridge Partners, GSO Capital Partners and the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, according to media reports.

Hunt Letter Doesn’t Tell Whole Story

In his open letter, Hunt invokes everything but mom and apple pie in order to sway the officials who have to approve of his Oncor purchase.

“As the Public Utility Commission of Texas considers Hunt’s proposal to acquire Oncor, I want to share why we believe our proposal is in the best interest of customers, our fellow Texans, and the economic health of Texas,” he says.

He goes on to say, “For more than 80 years, Hunt has been active in Oncor’s communities. We know that the local utility is the bedrock of every town and city in Texas. The utility turns on the lights at the churches, the football stadiums, the schools, the community centers and, most importantly, our homes.”

What he conveniently doesn’t say is that at Hunt’s insistence, all those exposed to EFH’s asbestos products and services since the 1930s were swept into an EFH bankruptcy provision that took away their rights to sue for unlawful asbestos exposure if they get sick.

Asbestos Claims Cut Off By EFH Bankruptcy

Hunt ensured that Energy Futures Holding (EFH), with known asbestos claims against it, was able to drastically limit the legal rights of all its past, present and future asbestos victims as part of its bankruptcy. This was done to make sure that Hunt would not have to compensate people who may become fatally ill from being exposed to asbestos while they or a family member worked at a facility where EFH handled asbestos.

Anyone who ever worked at any EFH site or had a family member who did, would have had to file a claim by December 14, 2015 or lose all rights to make any asbestos claims against EFH, its subsidiaries and its insurance companies, even if they are not sick yet.

Asbestos insulation was widely used in power plants built before 1980. But the toxicity of asbestos was already well-established at that time and less dangerous substitutes were available. The plants could have been retro-fitted with nontoxic materials but they were not.

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the EPA have determined that asbestos is a human carcinogen and there is no safe level of exposure.

By denying those who may develop mesothelioma or other asbestos-related disease the right to sue, Hunt is being allowed to potentially get away with murder.

Kazan Law EFH Rebuttal: Text of the Published Letter

Here in its entirety is the text of my published letter exactly as it appeared in the Dallas Morning News:

“Hunt’s op-ed piece sounds good but is grossly misleading. I am counsel to an asbestos widow who serves as a member of the Energy Future Holdings creditors’ committee in the EFH bankruptcy and to objectors who are appealing the order confirming the EFH deal with the Hunt group. As part of this deal, Hunt and his lawyers have insisted on eliminating the rights of all Luminant and Oncor employees and their families, as well as the rights of thousands of other Texans and other Americans, to fair compensation for fatal asbestos cancers that could occur in the decades ahead caused by work an EFH company did at 1,000 power plants around the world.

I agree with Hunt that it is important for the Texas PUC and all Texans to “see the facts and understand the details,” since once they understand what is truly at stake here they will conclude it would be a disaster to join him “in supporting the Hunt proposal as the very best way forward for Oncor and all of those dependent on Oncor in their daily lives.”

Steven Kazan, Oakland, Calif., Managing Partner, Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood

 

 

Mesothelioma Veterans Benefits Offered by the VA

Mesothelioma Veterans BenefitsMany of the people who suffer from mesothelioma, asbestos-caused lung cancer, or another disease related to asbestos exposure were exposed to toxic levels of asbestos during their military service. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and you are a veteran, you could be eligible for mesothelioma veterans benefits and disability.

Avenues of Asbestos Exposure in the Armed Forces

From the 1930s through the 1990s, the US Armed Forces used large quantities of asbestos in its facilities. Service members involved in building construction, renovation, or demolition are particularly likely to have encountered harmful levels of asbestos. Pipe fitters, welders, those involved in vehicle repair, and boiler operators also bear special burdens of risk.

Vietnam veterans have developed mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases because the material was widely used in construction and transportation during that conflict. Veterans who served in more recent wars in the Middle East may also have been exposed to asbestos through toxic particulate matter released by burning materials and desert dust containing unknown contaminants. Because mesothelioma can take as much as 50 years to manifest, there may be many more veterans affected in the years to come.

While service members may have been exposed to asbestos in any branch of the military, veterans of the US Navy – may be the most likely to have come into contact with toxic levels of asbestos. Navy personnel may have encountered asbestos on many types of vessels and in many different locations, particularly:

  • Ship Construction: If you worked in a naval shipyard between the 1930s and the 1990s, you are likely to have been exposed to airborne asbestos fibers, as the mineral was used in many areas of ship construction.
  • Shipside: The atmosphere below decks in Navy vessels, at least until the 1990s, may have been contaminated with asbestos due to inadequate ventilation. Crew members were also exposed to airborne asbestos fibers if they removed, repaired, or otherwise handled materials containing asbestos in the engine rooms.
  • Onboard: Any personnel who served on ships with keels laid before 1983 may have been exposed to asbestos, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Because of the amount of asbestos exposure military personnel received, particularly those who served before 1990, it’s a good idea to have regular checkups and monitor your lung health for early signs of mesothelioma or other asbestos diseases. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve your prognosis if you do become ill with mesothelioma.

Establishing the Connection Between Your Service and Mesothelioma

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may have been exposed to asbestos in more than one place throughout your life, including during your military service. It is impossible to determine exactly which exposure is responsible for your illness. Most people with mesothelioma pursue multiple avenues to receive the compensation they deserve. This can include a lawsuit against manufacturers, suppliers, installers, distributors as well as filing claims with asbestos bankruptcy trusts, and filing a claim with the Veterans Administration.

To establish the connection between your time in the armed forces and your illness, you will need to document the times and places where you served and the duties you performed, as well as your age at the time of service. The length of time you were exposed to asbestos during your military service is one of the factors the VA will look at in determining your eligibility for benefits and disability. In addition, the younger you were when you were exposed to asbestos, the greater your chances of developing mesothelioma or other asbestos diseases.

An experienced asbestos attorney can help you put the facts together and build your case in court and versus the asbestos trusts. Most asbestos lawyers will assist you on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t have to pay any money up front for their assistance. It can be helpful to have an ally who has been through the process many times, to work with you to build a successful claim. Kazan Law has a decades-long track record of helping clients get the mesothelioma benefits they deserve. In addition, the work they perform can be used by you to acquire additional benefits through the Veterans Administration.

Mesothelioma Veterans Benefits from the Veterans Administration

The Veterans Administration (VA) provides health and disability benefits to veterans who are ill and/or disabled due to their military service, as long as they received an honorable discharge.

Once you have established that your military service is a likely source of the asbestos exposure that caused your mesothelioma, you can receive treatment at any VA healthcare facility. The VA has healthcare facilities in all 50 states and several US territories. You will also be eligible to travel to receive treatment from mesothelioma specialists working at VA hospitals.

If the majority of your asbestos exposure occurred during your military service, you may be able to collect disability. The VA considers veterans with mesothelioma to be 100% disabled. This can be a crucial support for you and your family during a stressful time.

The amount of your disability payment will depend on whether you are single or married and whether or not you have dependents. For those with 100% disability, monthly payments start at $2,906.83. For more information on VA disability payments and rates, visit http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/types-disability.asp.

Asbestos Trust Funds: Their Purpose and How to Get Your Compensation

asbestos trust fundsAsbestos trust funds, also referred to as asbestos bankruptcy trusts and asbestos compensation funds, are one of the sources of compensation for people suffering from mesothelioma or other asbestos diseases. Asbestos trust funds were created to ensure that corporations set aside enough money to compensate the people they exposed to asbestos.

A Short History of Asbestos Trust Funds

Johns-Manville, a corporation that has manufactured products such as insulation and roofing with asbestos since 1901, was the first large corporation to declare bankruptcy claiming asbestos litigation as the cause. By the early 1930s, the corporation’s employees were falling prey to an unusual amount of lung disease. People began to sue the company in increasing number over time, even as Johns-Manville continued to use asbestos in its products, exposing employees and construction workers to toxic levels of the mineral.

By 1982, Johns-Manville was facing so many individual and class action asbestos lawsuits that it filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11. Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code allows corporations to reorganize so they can stay in business.

After several years of bankruptcy and civil litigation, in 1988 Johns-Manville placed the majority of the corporation’s assets into a fund to pay victims with asbestos-related diseases caused by the its products. This fund, the Manville Personal Injury Trust Fund, was the first big asbestos trust fund. It is still paying claimants today.

Section 524(g) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code was enacted to encourage corporations to establish well-funded asbestos trust funds such as the Manville Fund, rather than waiting until corporate assets were drained by litigation to reorganize under Chapter 11. About 60 corporations have followed this path to allow the business to remain viable in the face of massive liability for toxic asbestos exposure.

Filing a Claim With an Asbestos Trust Fund

If your illness was caused by a company that has established an asbestos trust fund, you will need to file a claim with that fund for compensation. You may have claims against more than one fund, and or also non bankrupt companies, if you were exposed to asbestos by multiple corporations.

Before you can file a claim with an asbestos trust fund, you will need a confirmed diagnosis of mesothelioma or other asbestos-related disease from a qualified doctor approved by that fund. You will also need to document when and where the company’s products or actions exposed you to asbestos. Documentation may include a work history for you or a spouse or proof that you lived or worked in a building containing asbestos products made by that company.

While filing a claim with an asbestos trust fund is simpler than filing a lawsuit, it still requires paperwork that must be completed correctly. You can file the claim on your own but, as you can imagine, the assistance of an experienced asbestos lawyer can take a considerable burden off of you. A lawyer who has been through the process many times will know the ins and outs of filing a claim. He or she can do the preparation and investigation work to get your claim filed so you don’t have to expend extra effort at a time when your health is suffering.

Getting Compensation From an Asbestos Trust Fund

Asbestos trust funds were set up to compensate victims of asbestos exposure more straightforwardly than by forcing each individual to go to court. The process is much less contentious than filing a lawsuit. By setting up an asbestos trust, a corporation has acknowledged its culpability in exposing people to toxic levels of asbestos and has taken responsibility for providing compensation for current and future victims of asbestos disease.

Because of this, you can expect to receive your compensation more quickly than if you filed a lawsuit. It can take several months to gather the documentation needed and for the asbestos trust fund to process your claim. Once a claim is accepted, most claimants receive compensation within about two months.

For people who are very ill, such as those suffering from advanced lung cancer or mesothelioma, asbestos trust funds offer an expedited process, so victims can receive compensation more quickly. The trade off for expedited review is that the trust fund will offer a fixed schedule of compensation amounts for certain illnesses. These amounts tend to be lower than the amounts claimants may receive under the regular review process.

Once your claim has been approved and the amount of your compensation agreed, the asbestos trust fund may reduce the amount you receive. While some funds pay out 100% of the compensation owed to claimants, some pay only a percentage, as a way to preserve enough funding for future victims. Because asbestos-related illnesses often develop several decades after exposure, asbestos trust fund managers project how many more people they expect they will need to compensate in the future. Some funds pay as little as 1% but on average it’s about 25% of full value.

Another way that an experienced asbestos attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve from an asbestos trust fund is to negotiate a higher compensation amount, if you choose the regular (not expedited) claim review process. Compensation amounts depend on the seriousness of your illness, the amount of exposure you received from that corporation (for example, how many years you were exposed to the product), and the solvency of the trust fund. Payments for those with mesothelioma or other serious illness can be hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.

Kazan Law Experienced with Asbestos Trust Funds

Recognized by the Wall Street Journal as the country’s most important law firm in the asbestos bankruptcy arena, Kazan Law has the experience required to attain the best results for you and your family. We pursue all possible sources of compensation for our clients. If you have more questions about asbestos trust funds or other issues relating to compensation for your asbestos-related illness, please feel free to contact us.

 

FAQs About Asbestos Compensation Funds

FAQs About Asbestos Compensation FundsAsbestos compensation funds, also known as asbestos trust funds or asbestos bankruptcy trusts, are funds created when corporations that have exposed people to asbestos declare bankruptcy. If you have mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, you may be eligible for compensation from one or more asbestos compensation funds.

What Is an Asbestos Compensation Fund?

Some corporations, most notably the Johns Manville Company, have faced so many asbestos lawsuits, that they sought the protection of bankruptcy. Asbestos compensation funds are created and funded when corporations file for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, which allows them to reorganize and stay in business. U.S. Bankruptcy Code Section 524(g) mandates that these companies create asbestos trust funds to ensure that money is available to compensate future victims of asbestos-related diseases caused by their negligence.

The bankruptcy court works with corporations and asbestos attorneys to ensure that money is set aside in each asbestos compensation fund to cover all anticipated future claimants, to the extent possible based on each company’s assets. Since asbestos diseases can take decades to come to light, the asbestos compensation funds may continue operating for several more decades.

Can I File a Lawsuit Against a Company That Has an Asbestos Compensation Fund?

When negligent corporations file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, they get protection from future lawsuits. You can, however, file a claim against that corporation’s asbestos bankruptcy trust fund.

How Much Money Do Asbestos Compensation Funds Have?

Currently, over $32 billion in assets is held by more than 50 asbestos compensation funds. The money in the funds is invested so, even as victims of asbestos-related diseases continue to be paid every year, the amount of funds available has risen over the past several years.

Who Is Eligible to Receive Compensation From an Asbestos Bankruptcy Fund?

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer caused by asbestos, or another asbestos disease, you are eligible for compensation. If one or more of the corporations that negligently exposed you to asbestos has an asbestos compensation fund, you may file a claim with that fund.

How Do I File a Claim With an Asbestos Trust Fund?

To file a claim and receive compensation from an asbestos compensation fund, you will first need a verified diagnosis with an asbestos-related illness. You will also need to document when and where you were exposed to asbestos by the company that created the compensation fund.

The specific process for filing your claim with an asbestos compensation fund is set out on the fund’s website. The documentation required for each fund is the same, so you won’t have to start back at zero if you file more than one asbestos trust fund claim.

How Much Compensation Can I Expect to Receive?

Asbestos compensation funds maintain schedules of payment that depend on the seriousness of your illness. If you are represented by an attorney, that attorney may negotiate a higher amount for you, based on your particular circumstances. The average payment for claimants with mesothelioma, the most serious asbestos disease(s) is around $260,000, but some can collect several times that amount.

Some funds have calculated that they will not have enough money left to pay out to all future victims if they pay current claimants 100% of what they are owed. It is not uncommon for asbestos compensation funds to pay out as little as 25% of the money they owe to claimants. Thus, if you were awarded $200,000, you might receive anywhere from $50,000 (if the asbestos compensation fund has a payment percentage of 25%) to the full $200,000, if the fund is paying out 100% of its claims.

What Is Expedited Review?

Claimants who are very seriously ill can opt for an expedited review of their asbestos compensation fund claim. If you choose expedited review, your award will be based on a set payment schedule based on your illness and the amount will not be negotiable. The expedited process can, however, bring financial relief more quickly to people suffering from a life-threatening asbestos disease, such as mesothelioma.

What Is True Up?

If you have received a payment from an asbestos compensation fund, you will never be asked to pay any portion of that back. If, however, an asbestos trust fund discovers that it is paying out less than it projected, that fund may adjust its payment percentage upward. If you were paid only a percentage of your claim, you may be eligible for additional compensation. This adjustment process is called trueing up.

How Long Does it Take to Receive Funds From an Asbestos Compensation Fund?

It can take from a few months to over a year to process your claim under the normal (not expedited) review process. Once you have agreed on the amount of your award, it generally takes about two months to receive payment from an asbestos compensation fund.

Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Claim for Compensation From an Asbestos Trust Fund?

You can file your claim against an asbestos compensation fund on your own. However, you get compensation more quickly and probably from more trust funds, with assistance from an experienced asbestos attorney, who can make sure that your documentation is completed correctly. In addition, your lawyer may be able to negotiate a higher compensation for your injuries.

If you have additional questions about asbestos compensation funds or asbestos lawsuits, contact Kazan Law to speak about your case with a member of our experienced and compassionate staff.

 

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