Four women are taking a number of insurance companies to court who they feel acted as buyback companies to a business that lost several asbestos lawsuits.
Buffalo News reports that Joe Muir, who worked at Durez Plastics Corporation during the summers as a high school and college student, died from mesothelioma at the young age of 57. He passed in 2015 from complications with the illness, numerous years after he worked at Durez, but before his passing, he was able to prove that his illness stemmed from asbestos exposure from his summer work. A jury awarded Muir $5.6 million, with more than half of the amount for lost income and medical expenses. Yet, months after he won his lawsuit, his family still hasn’t been paid.
According to Nancy Muir, Joe Muir’s widow, who joins three other widows and a sister of a mesothelioma who are all fighting for their family’s compensation, insurance companies want them to give up on trying to get their compensation. To make that happen, the women think that Hedman Resources, the business that manufactured the raw asbestos used at Durez, initiated and carried out undisclosed “buyback agreements” with insurance companies.
“Their hope is you’ll give up. They just carry on and snub their nose at you while you sit back and confront death.”
An asbestos attorney for one of the victim’s family, indicated that in 30 years, he has never heard of buyback agreements between asbestos companies and insurance companies. Yet, that’s because these deals were made in confidence, according to the lawyer.
“We’ve never come across it in 30 years. These were secret confidential deals. And they don’t pass the smell test.”
According to the plaintiff’s lawsuits, the buyback agreements were negotiated in 2012 with Hedman Resources and Lamorak Insurance, Seaton Insurance and One Beacon America Insurance. The agreement would help the insurance companies buy their way out of any liabilities that result from the asbestos lawsuits losses. In return, Hedman allegedly received $6 million. Seaton Insurance claims that there was nothing secret about the agreement, but that the buyback agreement happened after a dispute over insurance liabilities in the Hedman lawsuits. According to an attorney for the insurance company,
“Seaton disputes that it adopted a ‘cut and run’ strategy. To the contrary, Seaton and Hedman entered into the buyback agreements at issue following hard-fought, arm’s-length negotiations.”
Yet, four men ( Joe Muir, Hubert A. Peace, Arthur E. Neilson and Paul J. Mineweaser) all won their mesothelioma lawsuits against Durez and their families are owed a combination of $13 million. None of the families have been paid.
The Muir family has now taken their fight to federal court. U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr. will decide whether the insurance companies are still liable for the asbestos lawsuits, as Hedman ended its asbestos mining business numerous years ago.
An asbestos attorney who now represents all the families stated that he’s “in it for the long haul,” and that he’s confident justice will win out in the end.
“We’re in it for the long haul.”
Meanwhile, Nancy Muir doesn’t understand how or why a judge would rule that the insurance companies aren’t liable since her husband clearly won his lawsuit.
“I push forward for him. I don’t know how a judge can make a decision and not have it carried out.”
Additional Help and Resources for Asbestos Victims
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer, you may be eligible for substantial compensation. There is currently over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, set up for those who are victims to asbestos-related diseases. Use our free Asbestos Attorney Locator Tool today to find a leading mesothelioma attorney in your area. For additional assistance, contact us at 800-694-4856.