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Asbestos and Mesothelioma Trust Funds

Asbestos trust fund claims are a type of compensation for people diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. Bankrupt companies that manufactured or sold asbestos products established mesothelioma trust funds to pay current and future claims. An estimated $30 billion is available in these trusts.

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Who Can File Mesothelioma Trust Fund Claims?

Pleural mesothelioma patients may be able to file claims against one or more mesothelioma trust funds to receive compensation for injuries related to asbestos exposure. A qualified mesothelioma lawyer can determine if you are eligible and help you file a trust claim.

Mesothelioma trust funds are created on behalf of bankrupt companies that manufactured, produced or used asbestos-containing products.

The trust is a separate entity from the company and is managed by trustees who decide the amount of compensation paid to claimants. Trustees invest the trust’s assets so it maintains enough money to pay future claims.

You can’t sue a company that successfully reorganized under section 524(g) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. However, you may be able to receive money from a negligent company’s asbestos trust.

How Much Money Is Available in Asbestos Trusts?

There are more than 60 active trusts with an estimated $30 billion available to people negligently affected by asbestos exposure. Trust fund claims filed by people diagnosed with mesothelioma routinely pay in six figures, according to a 2016 Mealey’s Asbestos Bankruptcy report.

Asbestos trust funds have paid claimants approximately $20 billion since Johns Manville and UNR Industries filed the first asbestos-related bankruptcies in the 1980s.

More than 100 companies have filed for bankruptcy protection from asbestos lawsuits, according to a report from the RAND Corporation’s Institute for Civil Justice.

Mesothelioma trust funds typically pay claimants a set percentage of their claims in an effort to ensure there is enough money for future claims. As of 2019, the median percentage offered by the 26 largest asbestos trusts was 25% of a claim.

Top 5 Active Asbestos Trust Funds

Company Estimate of Initial Assets
United States Gypsum $3.9 billion
Owens Corning Corporation $3.4 billion
Pittsburgh Corning Corporation $3.4 billion
W.R. Grace and Co. $2.9 billion
Johns Manville $2.5 billion

Source: RAND Corporation’s Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts report

Can You File Multiple Asbestos Trust Claims?

It is common to file claims against more than one asbestos trust. Pleural mesothelioma patients may be able to file against multiple trusts to receive compensation from companies who played a role in exposing them to asbestos and causing their cancer.

For example, a November 2015 analysis of publicly available discovery data showed that in cases where Garlock and Crane Co. were codefendants, plaintiffs eventually filed an average of 18 trust claim forms.

Bankruptcy proceedings for Garlock showed the typical mesothelioma plaintiff’s total recovery was estimated between $1 million and $1.5 million. About $600,000 of that came from asbestos trust funds, with the rest coming from tort recoveries.

Another report showed claimants in Madison County, Illinois, received an average of $800,000 in compensation, with a significant portion (41%) from bankruptcy trusts.

What Is the Process for Filing a Trust Claim?

In order to file a claim with an asbestos trust, you must show evidence of an asbestos-related injury. This may include medical records, written statements by doctors and work records that confirm a company’s facilities or products exposed you to asbestos.

The procedures for filing, evaluating and paying claims are determined by trust procedures. The procedures are aimed at distributing the trust’s money fairly between claimants so there is enough to pay everyone.

Criteria established by each trust helps trustees determine how much compensation a claimant will receive. An experienced mesothelioma attorney can help you gather this evidence and prepare your trust fund claim.

Step 1: Confirm Diagnosis

Pleural mesothelioma patients typically have to confirm their diagnosis to file a trust claim. Required documents may include X-rays, pathology reports and a statement drafted by your oncologist.

Step 2: Provide Exposure Site Evidence

Claimants are usually required to provide evidence linking their asbestos exposure to the bankrupt company affiliated with the trust. You may need to provide employment records and witness affidavits from former co-workers and supervisors.

Asbestos Trusts vs. Mesothelioma Lawsuits

Asbestos trust fund claims are not lawsuits. You cannot sue a bankrupt asbestos company, just as you can’t file a trust claim against a nonbankrupt company.

People diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma may be able to file asbestos trust fund claims and lawsuits at the same time. However, filing trust claims can affect the amount of compensation received from a lawsuit.

The federal government leaves it up to each state to form its own asbestos legislation. This may dictate when you can file a trust claim or how trust awards may affect lawsuit compensation.

Limitations of Filing Mesothelioma Trust Claims

Information Sharing

Some state courts require disclosure of trust claim information with lawsuit defendants. Certain jurisdictions such as New York City require filing trust claims before trial.

Setoffs

States have different laws on whether payments from asbestos trusts should be taken into consideration when determining compensation from a mesothelioma lawsuit.

Tort Reform

In recent years, politicians and other government officials have called for more transparency and accountability to prevent fraudulent claims and mismanagement of trusts. The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act seeks to require the trusts to report payouts, recording personal information of claimants in a public database.

In 2018, the Department of Justice increased scrutiny of asbestos trust funds, claiming they lack the proper safeguards to prevent fraudulent claims and ensure enough money is left for future claims.


Danielle DiPietro

Danielle DiPietro

As a Patient Advocate, Danielle DiPietro’s mission is to guide patients through the process of pleural mesothelioma treatment, ensuring they receive the best medical, financial and emotional support available. Danielle is accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs as an official Claims Agent, allowing her to provide professional guidance to veterans and family members who need to file a claim for specialized VA benefits.

Last Modified May 28, 2019

9 Cited Article Sources

  1. Tucker, E. (2018, October 31). US steps up scrutiny of funds for asbestos exposure victims. Retrieved from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/us-steps-up-scrutiny-of-funds-for-asbestos-exposure-victims/2018/10/31/11e1ed22-dcc7-11e8-8bac-bfe01fcdc3a6_story.html?utm_term=.d9837177bd80
  2. United States Department of Justice — Office of Public Affairs. (2018, September 13). Justice Department Files Statement of Interest in New Asbestos Trust Proposal. Retrieved from: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-files-statement-interest-new-asbestos-trust-proposal
  3. Fisher, D. (2017, March 20). State AGs Probe Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts To Recover Medicare Payments. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielfisher/2017/03/20/state-ags-probe-asbestos-bankruptcy-trusts-to-recover-medicare-payments/#6acc9f6e7ce2
  4. Congress.gov. (2017, February 24). H.R.906 - Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/906
  5. Hare, J. & Ryan, D. (2016, April 19). COMMENTARY: Uncloaking Bankruptcy Trust Filings In Asbestos Litigation: Refuting the Myths About Transparency. Retrieved from: http://www.marshalldennehey.com/media/pdf-articles/O%20413%20by%20J.%20Hare%20%26%20D.%20Ryan%20%2804.2016%29%20Mealey%27s%20Asbestos%20Bankruptcy%20Report.pdf
  6. Dixon, L & McGovern, G. (2015). Bankruptcy Trusts Complicate the Outcomes of Asbestos Lawsuits. Retrieved from: https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9830.html
  7. Dixon, L & McGovern, G. (2015). Bankruptcy’s Effect on Product Identification in Asbestos Personal Injury Cases. Retrieved from: https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR907.html
  8. Scarcella, M. & Kelso, P. (2013, December 11). Asbestos Bankrupcy Trusts: A 2013 Overview of Trust Assets, Compensation & Governance. Retrieved from: https://www.lexisnexis.com/LegalNewsRoom/litigation/b/litigation-blog/posts/asbestos-bankruptcy-trusts-a-2013-overview-of-trust-assets-compensation-amp-governance
  9. Dixon, L., McGovern, G. & Coombe, A. (2010). Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts: An Overview of Trust Structure and Activity with Detailed Reports on the Largest Trusts. Retrieved from: https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/technical_reports/2010/RAND_TR872.pdf

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