U.S. Gypsum Settlement Will Add to Asbestos Fund
January 8, 2007
The funds available to be distributed to claimants through the college and university asbestos class action will increase dramatically if a proposed $35.5 million settlement with United States Gypsum (USG) is approved by the Federal District Court at a hearing scheduled for March 19. An official notice inviting class members to comment on the proposed settlement has been mailed to class members. Comments or notice of intent to appear at the hearing must be filed with the court at least 15 days prior to the date of the hearing.
Class Counsel Edward J. Westbrook expressed his appreciation for the cooperation of the college community as his firm has pressed the college claims through the federal trial and bankruptcy courts: "It has been very gratifying to have the colleges stand with us over the past two decades as we have overcome amazing hurdles, including this latest 5-year bankruptcy by a major defendant, to assemble a sizable settlement fund."
Colleges and universities that did not opt out of the class in 1996 were eligible to submit claims for a share of the settlement fund, which stands at slightly more than $50 million. More than 350 institutions filed claims before the March 15, 2006, deadline. During the past year, the class counsel has been reviewing claims documents and working with claimants to resolve discrepancies and documentation issues. The court-appointed steering committee for the class will meet in late March to finalize recommendations to the court for distribution of the settlement fund. If the USG settlement is approved, the court will determine the extent to which the net settlement proceeds will be used to supplement the existing settlement fund.
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