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Deadline Set for Motions to File Late Claim in $50 Million Class Action Suit

January 24, 2008

Under a recent court ruling, colleges and universities have until March 22 to petition for permission to file a late claim for reimbursement of asbestos abatement expenses. The original deadline for filing claims in the class action suit known as Central Wesleyan v. W.R. Grace, et. al, was March 15, 2006.

In 1987, NACUBO and the American Council on Education joined a group of institutions in filing a class action suit against asbestos companies. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in South Carolina, led to more than $50 million in settlements being held in escrow for distribution to colleges and universities as partial reimbursement for expenses incurred for asbestos abatement work.

The court appointed a steering committee, of which NACUBO is a member, to work with class counsel in designing a fair and equitable claims process that imposes a minimal burden on institutions.  More than 350 institutions filed the original claims by the 2006 deadline. Due to recent court action, however, a new window of opportunity has opened for institutions that have not opted out of the class in the past. They can now petition the court for permission to file a late claim.

In response to a motion by one class member that had missed the deadline, the court ruled on December 21, 2007, to allow acceptance of the late claim. In that order, the Court also ruled that "any other college that failed to file a timely claim, but believes it has good cause for its inaction, may file a motion to be permitted to file such a late claim." The Court further ruled that, in order not to disadvantage colleges that had filed timely claims, "those colleges will also be permitted to file a motion to supplement their claims on a showing of good cause to add any abatements meeting the claims guidelines, including the cutoff date for qualifying abatements." The cut-off date for qualifying abatement was March 15, 2006.

Official notice was mailed on January 22 to all class members. All motions seeking to file a late claim for good cause--or seeking to supplement a previously filed claim for good cause--must be filed by March 22, 2008. The Court will not consider motions filed after that date. Please note that the U.S. District Court in South Carolina requires electronic filing. If your institution needs assistance with the electronic filing process, contact either the Clerk of Court at 843.579.1401 or the class counsel at ewestbrook@rpwb.com.

NACUBO Contact: Anne C. Gross, vice president regulatory affairs 202-861-2544