What Is a Mesothelioma Trust Fund?
Mesothelioma trust funds are large amounts of money set aside by asbestos companies to handle asbestos claims. Eligible patients and loved ones can file a claim against the trust to receive compensation.
During the past few decades, asbestos companies have faced thousands of claims resulting in large settlements and jury awards from mesothelioma lawsuits. In an attempt to limit the amount of money they would have to pay to mesothelioma victims, many of these companies reorganized under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. This forced companies to create trust funds to compensate then-current and future victims who had been exposed to their products. These trust funds are referred to as asbestos trust funds, mesothelioma trusts funds or asbestos bankruptcy trust funds.
In 1994, the United States Congress established section 524(g) under the Bankruptcy Code. This allowed companies with asbestos liabilities to create trust funds.
Asbestos use was popular until the late 1970s, when its dangers became well known. Many asbestos companies were aware of health risks but continued to use asbestos. Asbestos companies are not only the businesses mining and producing the mineral, but also the facilities using asbestos to produce asbestos-containing materials.
Thousands of people have been exposed to asbestos and are at risk of developing diseases, such as mesothelioma. People are exposed to asbestos in the following ways:
The number of asbestos-related diagnoses grows each year. Victims continue to seek compensation from the companies responsible for wrongful asbestos exposure. Compensation from these trust funds can help victims with treatment costs and lost income.
Why Were Asbestos Trusts Created?
Asbestos trusts were created to provide compensation to victims of exposure and their loved ones. Trust funds provided companies with a way to handle multiple asbestos claims, as well as future claims.
Many companies filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to reduce or eliminate their liability. Some had no other option as they lost any profit to paying out asbestos claims. Asbestos companies filed for two types of bankruptcy: Chapter 11 or Chapter 7.
Bankruptcy Types and Asbestos Companies
- Chapter 7 bankruptcy (liquidation bankruptcy) required asbestos companies to sell all assets. The courts then distributed money from these assets to victims.
- Chapter 11 bankruptcy (reorganization bankruptcy) permitted asbestos companies to reorganize and remain in business. These companies created trust funds.
Companies filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy must reorganize. Reorganization protects the companies against mesothelioma lawsuits. Instead, their trust funds handle all claims.
The companies must present a business plan in court, including an estimate of initial funding for the trust. A judge approves or denies the plan for reorganization and appoints a trustee. The trustee is responsible for trust valuation.
Trust Fund Valuation: The designated trustee regularly evaluates the trust’s funding and determines if the payout percentage needs adjusting. The payout rate may need to be lowered to ensure future claimants can receive compensation.
Numerous asbestos companies have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and have established trust funds. Some companies were denied reorganization and forced to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Currently, Johns-Manville Corporation, Celotex Corporation, Eagle Pitcher and UNARCO have the longest-standing asbestos trusts. The number of companies completing court proceedings and establishing active trusts continues to grow.
02. Compensation from Trusts
Receiving Compensation From Mesothelioma Trust Funds
How Trust Fund Compensation Helps
- Helps pay for treatment and associated travel expenses
- Replaces lost income when a patient can no longer work
- Provides financial security for patients and their families
Asbestos victims and loved ones can file a trust fund claim to receive compensation. Financial assistance can help with a variety of hardships families face after a death or diagnosis.
Mesothelioma and asbestos trust funds are designed to pay out current and future claims. Payout amounts will fluctuate to ensure funds don’t run out.
Mesothelioma lawyers can ensure patients meet all eligibility requirements for maximum compensation.
Mesothelioma Fund Eligibility Requirements
Trust fund eligibility requirements limit the number of individuals that can file a claim. They also help determine compensation amounts.
Common criteria typically include documented proof of exposure and validation of an asbestos-related diagnosis. Although most trust funds have the same eligibility requirements, some have additional criteria.
Who Can File an Asbestos Trust Fund Claim?
- Victims of exposure later diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness may be able to file a claim.
- Family members of a victim who has died from an asbestos-related illness may be able to file a claim.
- If an individual is too ill to file, a family member or attorney may be able to file a claim on their behalf.
Mesothelioma patients and their loved ones should work with an experienced asbestos attorney to determine which trust fund to file against, as well as eligibility requirements. Asbestos law firms have experience handling mesothelioma claims. They can help ensure claimants receive adequate compensation as quickly as possible.
How Much Is the Average Asbestos Trust Fund Payout?
The amount of compensation a claimant receives from a trust fund varies. Factors that may influence the payout amount include:
- Type of asbestos diagnosis
- Initial payment schedule of the trust fund
- Current payment percentage
Asbestos trust fund settlements from higher-paying trusts can exceed $125,000. Currently, the highest paying trusts are:
- Pittsburgh Corning
- Harbison-Walker Refractories Company
- W.R. Grace
- U.S. Gypsum Company
- Owens Corning
- Western MacArthur
Ultimately, claimants should discuss payout amounts with their lawyer. Attorneys will take multiple factors into account to provide an estimate for a claimant’s specific case.
How Much Money Is Left in Asbestos Trust Funds?
The amount of money in a trust fund varies by company. Companies have to ensure their trusts have enough money to pay present and future claims.
Claimants may be entitled to compensation from multiple asbestos trusts. In other words, they are not limited to the payout amount listed for one trust fund.
Each trust fund has a payment schedule to ensure continued payouts. Schedules are typically based on a percentage of what the claimant is entitled to and are subject to change over time. This percentage is referred to as an asbestos trust payment percentage. For example, if a patient or loved one is entitled to $100,000, a trust fund with a 30% payment percentage would pay $30,000.
The payment percentage can increase or decrease based on the number of claims the trust has budgeted for versus how many claims they actually receive over a certain period of time. This is one reason it is important for victims to file a claim with any applicable trusts as soon as possible.
- If a payment percentage increases, claimants previously paid at a lower percentage will receive an additional payment for the difference.
- If a payment percentage decreases, claimants previously paid at a higher percentage will keep the full payment amount.
Asbestos victims may be concerned trust funds will run out of money and stop making payments. This concern arises from the following circumstances:
- Companies are no longer in business
- Bankruptcy proceedings based initial funding amounts on estimates that were too low
- Some companies put as little money into their trust funds as possible
- The number of asbestos victims and trust claims continues to increase
One example of an underfunded trust is the Johns-Manville Trust. The trust began with $2.5 billion but has had to stop payments twice. Payout percentages have also been dramatically reduced to continue making payments to claimants.
Mesothelioma lawyers have experience negotiating with trusts and can help ensure victims receive the highest compensation possible.
Resources for Mesothelioma Patients
03. List of Asbestos Trusts
List of Asbestos Trust Funds
Mesothelioma patients and loved ones can reference this comprehensive list of asbestos trust funds. The list is not exhaustive and is subject to change.
|Company||Asbestos Trust Fund||Created||Initial Funding|
|A-Best Products||A-Best Asbestos Settlement Trust||2004||$18 million|
|A. P. Green Industries||APG Asbestos Trust||2014||$333 million|
|A.B.B. Global Inc.||Lummus 524(g) Asbestos Personal Injury Trust||2006||$38 million|
|ACandS, Inc.||ACandS Asbestos Settlement Trust||2008||$528 million|
|API, Inc.||API, Inc. Asbestos Settlement Trust||2006||$94 million|
|Armstrong World Industries||Armstrong World Industries, Inc. Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust||2006||$2.06 billion|
|ARTRA Group, Inc.||ARTRA 524(g) Asbestos Trust||2007||$74 million|
|Asarco, Inc.||ASARCO LLC Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust||2009||$830 million|
|Asbestos Claims Management Corp./ National Gypsum Company||NGC Bodily Injury Trust||1993||$446 million|
|Babcock & Wilcox Company||Babcock & Wilcox Asbestos Trust||2006||$1.85 billion|
|Bondex||Bondex Trust||2016||$797.5 million|
|Burns & Roe Enterprises, Inc.||Burns & Roe Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust||2009||$172 million|
|C.E. Thurston & Sons||C.E. Thurston & Sons, Inc. Asbestos Trust||2006||$53 million|
|Celotex Corporation/ Carey Canada, Inc.||Celotex Asbestos Settlement Trust||1997||$1.25 billion|
|Combustion Engineering||Combustion Engineering 524(g) Asbestos Personal Injury Trust||2006||$1.24 billion|
|Congoleum Corporation||Congoleum Plan Trust||2010||$270 million|
|Daimler Chrysler||Not yet established||???||???|
|DII Industries, LLC (Dresser Industries)||DII Industries, LLC Asbestos Personal Injury Trust||2005||$2.51 billion|
|Durabla||Not yet established||???||???|
|Eagle-Picher Corporation||Eagle-Picher Industries Personal Injury Settlement Trust||1996||$730 million|
|EJ Bartells Co., Inc.||Bartells Asbestos Settlement Trust||2001||$20 million|
|Federal Mogul Corp.||Federal Mogul U.S. Asbestos Personal Injury||2007||$690 million|
|Ferodo||Federal-Mogul Asbestos Personal Injury Trust – Ferodo Subfund||2011||$635 million|
|Flexitallic||Federal-Mogul Asbestos Personal Injury Trust – Flexitallic Subfund||2011||$635 million|
|Flintkote Co./ Flintkote Mines Ltd.||Flintkote Company and Flintkote Mines Limited Asbestos Personal Injury Trust||2015||$214 million|
|Garlock||Not yet established||???||???|
|General Motors||MLC Asbestos Personal Injury Trust||2012||$625 million|
|G-I Holdings||G-1 Asbestos Settlement Trust||2009||$770 million|
|Hercules Chemical||Hercules Chemical Company, Inc. Asbestos Settlement Trust||2011||$8.6 million|
|H. K. Porter Co., Inc.||H. K. Porter Asbestos Trust||1998||n/a|
|J. T. Thorpe (C.D. Cal.)||J.T. Thorpe Settlement Trust||2006||$154 million|
|J. T. Thorpe (S.D. Tex.)||J.T. Thorpe Company Successor Trust||2004||$232 million|
|Johns-Manville Corp./ Philadelphia Asbestos Corp. (Pacor)||Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust||1988||$2.5 billion|
|Kaiser Aluminum Corp.||Kaiser Asbestos Personal Injury Trust||2006||$1.22 billion|
|Kaiser Gypsum||Not yet Established||???||???|
|Keene Corp.||Keene Creditors Trust||1996||$45 million|
|Kentile||Metex Asbestos Personal Injury Trust||2015||$193 million|
|Leslie Controls||Leslie Controls, Inc. Asbestos Personal Injury Trust||2011|
|MacArthur Co./ Western Asbestos Company||Western Asbestos Settlement Trust||2004||$2 billion|
|Maremont Corporation||Maremont Asbestos Personal Injury Trust||2019||$28 million|
|North American Refractories Co. (NARCO)||North American Refractories Company Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust||2013||$420 million|
|Owens Corning||Owens Corning Fibreboard Asbestos Personal Injury Trust – Owens Corning Subfund||2006||$3.42 billion|
|Owens Corning/ Fibreboard Corp.||Owens Corning Fibreboard Asbestos Personal Injury Trust||2006||$1.56 billion|
|Pittsburgh Corning||Pittsburgh Corning Corporation Asbestos Personal Injury Trust||2013||$3.41 billion|
|Plant Insulation Company||Plant Insulation Company Asbestos Settlement Trust||2012||$242.8 million|
|Plibrico Co.||Plibrico Asbestos Trust||2006||$206 million|
|Porter-Hayden Co.||Porter Hayden Bodily Injury Trust||2006||<$1 million|
|Quigley Co.||Quigley Company, Inc. Asbestos Personal Injury Trust||2013||$569 million|
|Raymark Corp./ Raytech Corp.||Raytech Corporation Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust||2000||n/a|
|Shook & Fletcher Insulation Co.||Shook & Fletcher Asbestos Settlement Trust||2002||$109 million|
|T. H. Agriculture & Nutrition||T. H. Agriculture & Nutrition, LLC Asbestos Personal Injury Trust||2009||$901 million|
|Thorpe Insulation Co./ Pacific Insulation Co.||Thorpe Insulation Company Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust||2006||$389 million|
|Turner & Newall||Federal-Mogul Asbestos Personal Injury Trust – Turner & Newall Subfund||2007||$635 million|
|United Gilsonite||Not yet established||???||???|
|United States Gypsum Co./ USG Corp.||United States Gypsum Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust||2006||$3.96 billion|
|United States Mineral Products||United States Mineral Products Company Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust||2005||$8 million|
|UNR Industries, Inc./ Unarco Industries, Inc.||UNR Asbestos-Disease Claims Trust||1990||n/a|
|W.R. Grace & Co.||WRG Asbestos Personal Injury Trust||2014||$2.98 billion|
|Yarway||Yarway Asbestos Personal Injury Trust||2016||$325 million|
04. Filing a Claim
How to File an Asbestos Trust Fund Claim
To file an asbestos trust fund claim, individuals should seek guidance from a lawyer. Lawyers will guide claimants through a multi-step process that involves meeting eligibility requirements, gathering documentation and formally submitting a claim.
Patients and loved ones are often balancing treatment, travel, caregiving and other responsibilities. A mesothelioma law firm can help reduce the burden and speed up the process for a timely payout.
Do You Need an Attorney to File a Mesothelioma Trust Fund Claim?
Asbestos attorneys are not only important for filing a lawsuit, but also for filing a trust fund claim. Experienced lawyers provide a variety of benefits, including an understanding of eligibility requirements, experience negotiating for maximum compensation and knowledge of trusts accepting claims.
Step 1: Understanding Trust Fund Criteria
Every trust fund has requirements claimants must meet to file a claim. These criteria are often published on a public website for review. Lawyers can use this information to prepare each case. Common criteria for a mesothelioma trust fund claim include:
- Date of asbestos exposure
- Workplace(s) where exposure occurred
- Proof of mesothelioma or another asbestos-related diagnosis, such as asbestosis
- Information about the asbestos products that led to the exposure
Other criteria may apply to trust funds. For example, claimants must follow the statute of limitations applicable to each trust. The statute of limitations sets deadlines for when individuals must file a claim after an asbestos-related death or diagnosis.
Mesothelioma Claim Deadlines
- Filed by the asbestos victim
- Victim must file within a certain number of years after a mesothelioma diagnosis
- Filed by the family member of an asbestos victim
- Claimant must file within a certain number of years after a mesothelioma death
To ensure eligibility, patients and family members should file a claim as soon as possible. Each trust has its own legal deadline for filing claims. Even if claimants are unsure of eligibility, they should discuss with an asbestos lawyer before ruling out the possibility of filing a trust fund claim.
Step 2: Gathering Evidence
A mesothelioma lawyer will help gather the evidence needed to establish a case. Lawyers may present the following information during a case:
- Employment records
- Military service records
- Union membership records
- Medical records, including diagnosis
- Witness testimony or affidavits
If patients have already prepared a lawsuit, that evidence may be used to file a trust fund claim.
Step 3: Filing a Trust Claim
After gathering evidence, the asbestos victim files a claim with the trust fund. Claim submission varies based on the trust. It’s usually done one of two ways:
- Submitting paper documentation
- Uploading documentation through an online website
An asbestos attorney may file on the claimant’s behalf. They will verify all documentation and evidence to ensure the process moves as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Step 4: Review of Trust Claim
After filing a claim, the trust fund administrators will review all submission materials. There are two primary methods of review for trust fund claims.
- The individual is grouped with other related claims (of the same “disease level” or disease type) and assigned a fixed payment.
- General information is collected, such as proof of exposure and invoices.
- Does not take the extent of disease or level of exposure into account, but may result in quicker payment.
- The individual receives individual consideration for their claim.
- Multiple factors are taken into consideration, such as the number of dependents.
- The payout could be higher or lower than with an expedited review.
Both review types have their own benefits. An asbestos lawyer can suggest the best type of review and help ensure the right review takes place.
Some trusts utilize central claims processing partners. The partner company handles multiple aspects of the claim, simplifying and speeding up the process. As a result, claimants may be able to receive compensation quicker. A mesothelioma attorney can help mesothelioma patients decide on the best method of review.
Step 5: Negotiation and Payment of a Trust Claim
Are Trust Fund Payments Taxable?
Asbestos victims are typically not required to pay taxes on compensation from a trust fund. However, trusts may have differing regulations. An asbestos attorney can provide the best insight.
Trust fund claims must be validated before claimants can receive financial compensation. Once validated, money to pay the claim will be liquidated. This means the payment amount will be determined and assigned to the claim.
A lawyer can negotiate after the review to reach an asbestos trust fund settlement. After a successful negotiation, the claimant will receive compensation.
05. Trust Claim vs. Lawsuit
Filing a Trust Fund Claim vs. Mesothelioma Lawsuit
There are multiple ways mesothelioma patients and their loved ones can seek compensation. In addition to a trust fund claim, individuals may seek to file a mesothelioma lawsuit or pursue veterans’ benefits. A mesothelioma lawyer can help individuals determine the best option.
Trust Fund Claim vs. Mesothelioma Lawsuit
- Victims file a claim against a specific trust fund.
- Claimants must meet trust fund eligibility requirements.
- Claims must go through review and approval.
- Compensation is subject to trust fund payout percentages.
- Victims file a claim against asbestos manufacturers for wrongful exposure.
- The claimant may reach a settlement to avoid further court proceedings.
- If the case goes to trial, claimants may pursue a jury verdict.
- Lawsuits may have a higher payout but often take more time.
Veterans may be able to file a claim with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). There are various types of VA claims available for compensation and additional benefits.
Can Trust Fund Claims Impact Lawsuits?
Trust funds are largely guided by federal regulations. However, some states have additional rules in place. For example, some states enable setoffs. Setoffs deduct the amount of compensation a claimant received from a trust fund from future jury awards or settlements.
Some states may also allow lawyers to utilize evidence from trust fund claims to support court cases. Claimants should discuss which option for compensation is best, as well as how it could impact future court proceedings.
06. The FACT Act
The FACT Act and Tort Reform
The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2017 was introduced for stricter monitoring of asbestos trust fund claims and payouts. Under the FACT Act, trusts would be required to publicly share information regarding claims and payouts. This federal legislation has not been signed into law.
The FACT Act and Confidentiality
The FACT Act would require trusts to create a public docket that may contain sensitive information. This could include the last four digits of claimants’ social security numbers, names, type of exposure and reason for seeking compensation.
Proponents of the FACT Act assert it would prevent “double-dipping” from multiple asbestos trust funds. In other words, claimants could not file full claims with multiple companies. Currently, this abuse of the system could potentially prevent other qualified individuals from getting the compensation they deserve.
Those in opposition of the FACT Act feel it could actually limit the amount of money asbestos companies had to pay, robbing claimants of the money they’re entitled to. Opposers also feel that there is not enough fraudulent activity occurring to warrant such an act.
Any progression of the FACT Act has been stalled, and there is no clear timeframe of when or if it will go into effect. To address claimant concerns and hold asbestos companies accountable for proper trust fund handling, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has taken action to support asbestos victims.
DOJ Trust Fund Concerns
The DOJ’s main priority is to ensure legitimate claimants receive the compensation they are entitled to. Mismanagement of trusts and fraudulent claims for compensation could hinder the rights of other victims.
The DOJ expressed the following concerns in regards to asbestos trust fund handling:
- Lack of trust fund accountability and transparency
- Lack of safeguards against claim fraud and abuse
- Inconsistent evidence across multiple claims
- Contradictory claims against multiple trust funds
- Lack of protection for legitimate claimants to receive compensation
The DOJ has taken action to address mismanagement. Measures include:
- In early September 2018, the DOJ filed a Statement of Interest against the Kaiser Gypsum trust fund. The statement targeted inadequate safeguards to protect against trust fund mismanagement and fraud.
- In late September 2018, the DOJ rejected the appointee for Duro Dyne’s trust. The DOJ felt he could not adequately represent the interest of future claimants based on his history with trust funds.
These actions support tort reform. Tort reform seeks to limit the amount of litigation from victims seeking compensation. Tort reform helps to eliminate unwarranted claims and prioritize legitimate pursuits of compensation.
Mesothelioma patients should discuss their eligibility with a lawyer. Experienced mesothelioma attorneys will ensure claims are filed accurately to provide compensation to victims in need.