CHICAGO, April 7, 2008 Principals announced today a $3 billion dollar agreement to resolve current and future asbestos claims with chemical manufacturer W.R.Grace & Co. and related entities, which will eventually allow the multinational corporation to emerge from bankruptcy with no further obligations for asbestos injury liability. Grace manufactured asbestos containing products from 1938 until the 1970's.
Terms of the agreement will require Grace to make cash payments over a period of time into a trust fund for asbestos victims. Additional cash contributions will be paid to the trust by Sealed Air Corporation, and Fresenius Medical Corporation, both formerly affiliated with Grace. Grace agreed that all of its remaining insurance coverage shall be used for the benefit of the asbestos victims. Grace also agreed that the trust fund shall receive warrants for its stock shares at an agreed price. The total value of the payments and equity is approximately $3 billion dollars. "The victims of asbestos poisoning and asbestos cancer have walked a long path to reach justice. Certainly nothing can replace the family members who have been lost as a result of their exposure to asbestos, but today's settlement represents a fair resolution for both the victims and Grace," said John D. Cooney of the Chicago law firm of Cooney and Conway. "It is appropriate at this time to remember that countless lives were lost and families damaged because of the needless use of asbestos products for many decades."
Mr. Cooney is a member of the negotiating committee for the settlement, as well as a member of the official Asbestos Creditors Committee appointed by the United States Trustee after Grace filed for bankruptcy protection in April 2001. At the time it filed for bankruptcy protection Grace stated that it had been named in 325,000 asbestos personal injury claims. Cooney, whose law firm represents asbestos plaintiffs, noted that many individuals had been diagnosed with asbestos disease since that time. "Workers and their families were unknowingly exposed to asbestos for most of the last century. Thousands of those people will be diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly cancer, in the future as a result of this exposure. By structuring this settlement as a trust fund, both present and future victims will be able to receive just compensation," Cooney stated.
The announcement of the settlement was made at a scheduled bankruptcy hearing before Judge Judith Fitzgerald in Pittsburgh this morning. It is expected that Judge Fitzgerald will set the matter for an additional hearing later this month.
SOURCE Cooney & Conway