A $5.2 billion settlement that was approved September 2006 for insulation giant Owens Corning, the company's creditors, and thousands of asbestos victims - including 2,000 in Washington state brings an end to a five-year legal battle that has kept victims in limbo.
Owens Corning, an Ohio-based company that used asbestos in insulation and other building materials for more than three decades, was among more than 70 companies that sought bankruptcy protection when a flood of lawsuits from asbestos victims began to hit the courts.
Asbestos is a fibrous, heat-resistant mineral that was commonly used in insulation, auto parts, and construction products between the 1940s and the 1970s, when a causal link was proven between the material and several chronic and terminal lung diseases. The diseases typically emerge decades after exposure.
Victims' attorneys were able to prove in court that executives at Owens Corning and other companies knew of the safety risks posed by asbestos long before the material was banned. Asbestos lawyers were able to show that the companies knew the risk to human health at the same time they were marketing it as nontoxic.
The settlement agreement requires that Owens Corning pay $4.29 billion in cash into an asbestos victims' trust fund, plus allot to the fund 28.6 million company stock shares once the company emerges from bankruptcy. The manufacturer also agreed to pay $2.5 billion to creditors. The settlement will let the company exit bankruptcy this year. (Nwsource)