Honeywell International, Inc., announced in late 2022 that the company had agreed to a one-time payment of $1.3 billion to its asbestos trust fund. The funds will help the multinational conglomerate avoid future monetary obligations to the trust once the deal is completed.
The settlement is part of an agreement with North American Refractories Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust (NARCO Asbestos Trust). It will help Honeywell’s future financial stability. It may also help more victims of asbestos exposure receive financial compensation.
The History of Honeywell’s and NARCO’s Asbestos Use
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral made up of microscopic fibers. It is strong, chemical resistant and fireproof, which made it a popular manufacturing material with many companies across industries for decades. However, mounting evidence showed that exposure to asbestos fibers had health risks, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. In the 1980s, the U.S. began regulating the mineral’s use, and bans and guidelines were put in place.
Before the 1980s, asbestos use had been steadily increasing in America. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, U.S. companies mined more than 299 million pounds of asbestos. Asbestos mines were active in the U.S. and abroad, and thousands of domestic and imported products contained the mineral.
North American Refractories Company (NARCO), for example, used it in their production of industrial heat-resistant equipment, such as patches and castables. It was also added to materials like cement and bricks. Honeywell owned NARCO from 1979 to 1986, making the company potentially liable for asbestos-related injuries.
A Brief History of NARCO
Started in 1929, NARCO was once one of America’s largest manufacturers of asbestos refractory materials. It created heat-resistant products for Honeywell that were used to line high-temperature equipment.
As NARCO’s product offering grew, workers from different industries may have been exposed to asbestos. Industries that NARCO provided products to included shipyards, power plants, rubber factories, paper mills and railyards.
Establishing the NARCO Asbestos Trust
The NARCO Asbestos Trust was created in 2013. It has paid out an estimated $523 million to those harmed by NARCO asbestos products. Honeywell periodically funded the trust.
Currently, the payment percentage for successful claims is 100%. Actual amounts paid to victims varies based on a number of factors. The victim’s age, diagnosis and history or type of exposure are just a few facets that can help determine compensation value. A law firm’s history and experience with mesothelioma and asbestos law may make a difference as well.
Asbestos Dangers to Workers and Consumers
As NARCO grew, so did its product offerings. They began producing and selling equipment like brake pads and linings, furnace fittings and ceramics. The number and variety of asbestos-containing products put both workers and consumers at risk of exposure.
Occupations that may have been affected include:
- Aircraft mechanics
- Auto mechanics
- Construction workers
- Industrial workers
- Machine operators
Families of these workers may also have a higher risk of exposure. Secondary exposure happens when someone without direct contact with asbestos is exposed to fibers on clothing or skin. This is often seen in family members of people who worked with asbestos. Also, consumers, such as those who bought automobiles with asbestos-contaminated parts, may be at risk of exposure.
The End of a Corporate Legal Battle
Decades of asbestos litigation and lawsuits have been costly for Honeywell in more ways than one. After filing for bankruptcy, NARCO established its asbestos trust to settle billions of dollars’ worth of asbestos claims. Since Honeywell previously owned NARCO, they agreed to help fund the trust.
The trust has paid out hundreds of millions of dollars since its creation, much of the money coming from Honeywell.
NARCO and Honeywell Competing Lawsuits
In 2021, Honeywell sued the NARCO Asbestos Trust, claiming it was making undeserved payouts to too many victims. The trust filed its own lawsuit against Honeywell, claiming the company was trying to avoid its original obligation of an estimated $150 million annually.
If approved, the one-time payout would end the legal battle between Honeywell and the NARCO Asbestos Trust. It will also end any future payments from Honeywell.
What’s Next for Honeywell, NARCO and Victims?
The payment will end most of Honeywell’s financial responsibilities to the trust fund by removing NARCO’s $695 million reserve from Honeywell’s balance sheet. The NARCO Trust Fund will have additional funds for asbestos-related lawsuits and settlements.
This may change how people exposed to asbestos or affected by asbestos-related illnesses need to file lawsuits. Victims must submit their claims to the fund instead of directly suing Honeywell or NARCO in court. The trust would then pay successful claims according to a set payment percentage. Trust funds can make payouts quicker and easier as well, in contrast with lawsuits.
It’s important to seek out legal counsel with asbestos and trust fund experience. These lawyers can help victims begin the process of filing a case and working towards compensation.
If you believe you or a loved one is entitled to compensation, learn how a mesothelioma lawyer can help.