In Feb. of last year, W.R. Grace emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Starting this week, after more than 13 years, the company is now accepting claims under their reorganization plan, which aims to compensate property owners and claimants who’ve been injured by asbestos due to the company’s negligence.
In April 2001, W.R. Grace filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after being hit with over 100,000 claims from people diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses, such as malignant mesothelioma and asbestosis. Many of these cases have moved extremely slowly, due to negotiations, appeals, and more. Most of the claims stem from either the public or former employees and contractors who were employed at the Zolonite mine in Libby, Montana. In 1963, W.R. Grace purchased the mine, and managed it until its closing in 1990.
For numerous years, asbestos fibers were released into the air as workers extracted vermiculite, a form of asbestos known for its heat and fire-resistant properties. Not only were workers at a constant risk of danger, but local residents of Libby also faced the constant threat of ingesting airborne asbestos fibers. In fact, hundreds of residents who never worked at the mine were diagnosed with mesothelioma and eventually died due to the disease’s harsh symptoms.
Joint Plan of Reorganization
In 2008, W.R. Grace reached a settlement agreement with numerous plaintiffs under an independent trust fund that allows the company to pay off all pending and future asbestos-related claims. After six years of finalizing the details, the trust opens this week, under the Joint Plan of Reorganization.
The WRG Asbestos PI Trust Distribution Procedures (TDP), created from the Joint Plan of Reorganization, outlines all of the payment procedures for the last 13 years, as well as any future asbestos-related claims. Under TDP, 8 Scheduled Disease levels are recognized, ranging from minor asbestos injuries, asbestosis, pleural diseases, and up to the life-threatening diseases such as asbestos-related lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma.
The level of the illness caused by W.C. Grace will determine how much compensation the claimant will receive. The most severe cases will get the highest compensation amount, but all proven claims that meet the requirements will be paid out, regardless of how minor or severe.
“We’re pleased that all remaining objections to the Joint Plan of Reorganization and its centerpiece third-party trusts have been resolved and that the trustees now can move forward to address actual claims,” said Rich Badmington, Vice President of Global Communications with W.R. Grace. “We have been focused on this outcome since the day, many years ago, when the parties to the bankruptcy became co-proponents of the Plan.”
EPA Files Against W.R. Grace for Toxic Substances Violation
Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, W.R. Grace was found liable “for response costs and natural resource damages incurred and to be incurred by the Settling Federal Agencies in the course of responding to releases and threats of releases of hazardous substances into the environment.” As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also filed claims against W.R. Grace in 2003.
As a result, part of W.R. Grace’s settlement agreement entailed a fine of $34 million to the EPA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) for clean-up costs. In addition, the Libby mine was also named a Superfund site, meaning that the company is liable for cleaning up an area that has been highly toxic by the EPA.
Keep in mind that if you or a loved one been have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, you may be eligible for considerable compensation. With more than $30 billion currently available in asbestos trust funds, now is the time to determine what you qualify for. Fill out our contact form today to get free brochures from the top mesothelioma lawyers in your area.