RPM International Sets Aside Over $1 Billion for Asbestos Claims

Asbestos exposure attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report that specialty chemicals maker RPM International recently set aside $1.2 billion to cover asbestos-related liabilities. This estimated number is twice the amount the company initially argued for.

Originally, RPM estimated the liability in amounts between $300 and $575 million, however, Judge Judith Fitzgerald told the company that no less than $1.2 billion would be appropriate. The asbestos liability claims stem from two of RPM’s now-bankrupt units: Specialty Products Holding Corp and Bondex International Inc. The judge’s 51-page opinion on the matter contained what legal experts describe as “sweeping language” that could have future implications on asbestos litigation.

Specialty Products and Bondex International filed Chapter 11 in May 2010 with the intention of permanently resolving asbestos liability though the establishment of a trust. The current dispute is over exactly how much money to put into this trust, which will compensate those injured by the companies’ products. Such products include a joint compound used to fill gaps in drywall which contained significant amounts of asbestos.

Asbestos was used abundantly in the United States – particularly in the construction industry – until the late 1970s, when it was discovered the mineral causes cancer. Mesothelioma and lung cancer are both directly attributed to asbestos exposure, and are two of the deadliest cancers one can have. Those diagnosed with mesothelioma are typically given less than one year to live.

Mesothelioma, like asbestosis, another debilitating disease caused exclusively by asbestos exposure, takes decades to develop in the body after initial exposure – anywhere between 20 and 50 years. Because of this, there has been a surge in mesothelioma diagnoses and consequent lawsuits in recent years even though asbestos was banned in the US in 1979.

In 1982, the first company, Johns-Manville Corp., filed for bankruptcy in anticipation of asbestos liability claims. Since then, about 70 more companies that either manufactured or sold asbestos-containing products have filed for bankruptcy. Since 2000 alone, 40 companies have filed, including Pfizer/Quigley, G-I Holdings, and W.R. Grace.

Because asbestos is odorless, tasteless, and invisible when airborne, mesothelioma patients throughout the world are trying to remember when, where, and exactly how they were exposed. Contacting a skilled attorney who can investigate this for you is of great help, and handfuls of companies are usually implicated in asbestos exposure lawsuits.

One such case is currently happening in Mississippi; Elizabeth Gailyne Sutherland is suing numerous companies alleging each contributed to her mesothelioma. Among these companies includes Alma Plantation, Anco Insulation, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Metropolitan Life Insurance, and McCarty Corporation. Sutherland is alleging second-hand exposure from her husband’s work with the companies.

Second-hand asbestos exposure is not, unfortunately, uncommon. Many wives and children of workers have contracted mesothelioma from asbestos dust brought home on boots, uniforms, and work gear. The defendants are accused of knowingly exposing her husband and family to hazardous material and failing to warn them about the exposure. They are also accused of failing to provide safety equipment, general ventilation, warn of the possibility of asbestos dust being tracked home, and distributing and manufacturing asbestos-containing products.

Asbestos exposure attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm highlight these stories to let mesothelioma and lung cancer victims know that there is possibility for justice, even for those who were employed at companies that are now bankrupt. If you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos and contracted a related disease, you may be entitled to significant compensation for your suffering, and should contact a skilled attorney as soon as possible.

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