GM’s Liability for Mesothelioma Claims, Much More than Original Estimate
December 3, 2010
In an attempt to decipher the extent of liability General Motors Corp will be under with mesothelioma claims, creditors sought out and received information from the company and other entities. This information was obtained with permission from U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber, in NY.
With this information available to creditors, they will be able to determine how significant their bankruptcy is and may possibly be able to move out of bankruptcy. Motors Liquidation Co., the last portion of GM remaining in bankruptcy, plans to form a trust fund for future asbestos claimants. The creditors are able to demand documents from asbestos trusts established from other companies to help them estimate future mesothelioma claims. The trusts they are investigating currently have funding of $30 billion to $60 billion. Being able to view this information is essential for moving the company out of bankruptcy.
In response to testimony about the fears of personal information being misused or disclosed, Judge Gerber said, “This isn’t like the formula for Coke or nuclear launch codes.” Under the judge’s order, mesothelioma attorneys and the creditors must keep information about claim holders’ age, work history, and diagnosis confidential.
Despite fears that personal information could be misused, the information available to creditors can help them better prepare to make monies available to mesothelioma victims. Mesothelioma is an incurable cancer caused by exposure to asbestos and GM’s brake linings contained the deadly particles that cause thousands and thousands of individuals to be sick.
During the 1990s, asbestos claims against GM were less than $2 million a year but by the mid-2000s the annual figure dramatically rose to an average of $30 million. To add to those figures, from 2000 to 2008, GM saw an average of 850 new mesothelioma claims against them per year. Because of the latency period of asbestos exposure causing mesothelioma, it may take up to 50 years for people to develop symptoms. This means that new cases will be cropping up anytime soon and the judge’s ruling will allow GM to prepare for future liability.
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