Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is being sued by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. over asbestos claims. Berkshire Hathaway is a property and casualty insurance unit of Warren Buffet’s conglomerate created in 2013. The Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Co. vs. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. case is in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Ohio.
Berkshire Hathaway hopes to avoid payments resulting from asbestos injury claims because Goodyear allegedly said nothing about them for seven years. The Buffett-led insurance company is seeking unspecified damages in the federal lawsuit, hoping that the court declares it doesn’t have to cover claims from 2008 to November.
Berkshire Hathaway isn’t the only property and casualty insurer to suffer losses from asbestos and mesothelioma claims. As of December 2016, U.S. property and casualty insurer losses amassed to a grand total of $100 billion, up $15 billion from the previous year’s estimate.
According to Berkshire Hathaway, Goodyear said it exhausted a policy from 2008 from a different insurer for asbestos claims. However, Goodyear did not seek reimbursement from Berkshire Hathaway until 2015 for millions of dollars under an “excess policy.” Nor did Goodyear seek help from Berkshire Hathaway when it came to defending claims before November 2015.
Berkshire Hathaway says Goodyear’s excess policy covered the period of July 1, 1976, to July 1, 1977. It was issued by predecessor Stonewall Insurance.
Goodyear has 62,000 pending claims against it in Florida, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. The cases involve asbestos exposure from products such as floor tiles, gaskets, and heat shields.
Although asbestos was used in a wide variety of products and industrial settings, there were numerous risk factors associated with its use. Those who manufactured these products, as well as those who worked with them directly, are at risk to develop diseases such as mesothelioma cancer.
Federal law requires that newly manufactured products contain no more than 1% asbestos, but there are also a number of popular asbestos alternatives available that are environmentally safe and pose limited health concerns to the user.
Berkshire Hathaway’s lawyers did not comment on the lawsuit right away. Goodyear spokesman James Peate said the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation.