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API Inc. Asbestos Trust

In the early 1980s, API began to feel the pinch of asbestos litigation. Since the company was deeply involved in asbestos use, it was named as a defendant in thousands of personal-injury lawsuits. In 2005, API filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to overwhelming asbestos liabilities.

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In 2018 (the most recent information available), the trust had $16.7 million in equity. The trust paid out $2.5 million in 2018. The current payment percentage is 35%.

History of API Inc. Asbestos Settlement Trust

API Inc. started as the Reuben L. Anderson-Cherne Co., a small family-owned heating and plumbing business that opened in 1926 in St. Paul, Minn.

As the Reuben L. Anderson-Cherne Co. grew, it began to use asbestos-containing products. In 1948, the Reuben L. Anderson-Cherne Co. spun off a new company – Asbestos Products. By the 1970s, Asbestos Products became API. The company’s asbestos-containing insulating products were sold, distributed and manufactured for pipes, ductwork, boilers and other industrial uses. API sold asbestos-containing products mainly in Minnesota and North Dakota and parts of South Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

In 2006, the courts approved the API, Inc. Asbestos Settlement Trust with $94 million. Today, the APi Group is a multibillion-dollar corporation and continues to operate as a parent to about 40 construction, energy, maintenance and contracting companies.

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API Inc. Asbestos Products

API stopped using asbestos in its products in the 1970s, but many of its insulating materials may remain in use today. The most prominent of API’s asbestos-containing products include insulation.

API Inc. asbestos products included wire and pipe insulation. Asbestos was a good insulator because it was fire-, heat- and chemical resistant. When mixed or woven into cloth, paper pulp, cement and plastic, asbestos increased tensile strength. Thermal insulation made with asbestos protected against heat extremes and resisted chemical and electrical corrosion. Since asbestos was cheap, it could be widely used without the financial concerns of other insulating products.


API Inc. Occupational Exposure

Asbestos was a threat to workers because the loose fibers can be inhaled or ingested. Once in the body, asbestos fibers may become lodged in tissue. Over years and decades, fiber irritations change the structure of the surrounding tissue to form cancerous tumors and cell overgrowth.

Workers who are most at risk for API Inc. asbestos exposure include:

  • Pipefitters
  • Construction workers
  • HVAC workers
  • Plumbers
  • Boiler operators

The trust also lists the following occupations and industries as vulnerable to API Inc. asbestos exposure:

  • Asbestos abatement
  • Petrochemical
  • A.P.I. Insulation products distribution
  • Chemical
  • Insulation
  • Non-A.P.I. Asbestos Manufacturing/mining/distribution products
  • Railroad Building
  • Iron and steel
  • Automotive and brakes

API Inc. Asbestos Secondary Exposure

In addition to the API Inc. workers, family members were also susceptible to asbestos exposure. When employees worked closely with asbestos, the fibers would get lodged in clothing and hair. Since most workers did not change clothes before going home, their family members came into contact with loose strands and dust.

Since asbestos has a long latency period – up to 40 years – many people may not connect diseases such as COPD and lung cancer with asbestos exposure. Secondary exposure also causes mesothelioma, asbestosis and many other asbestos-related diseases. Secondary exposure is more common in women and children.

Secondary exposure is also known as:

  • Second-hand exposure
  • Domestic exposure
  • Household exposure
  • Take-home expsoure
  • Paraoccupational exposure
  • Indirect exposure

The three most common sources of secondary exposure are as follows:

  • Laundry

In the 1970s, women commonly did the household laundry, so they were exposed to the asbestos fibers attached to the worker’s clothing.

  • Furniture

Asbestos fiber could have become embedded in soft furniture, including chairs and couches, if a worker did not change clothes before arriving home.

  • Contact

If a worker hugged a family member upon arriving home, asbestos fibers could have become airborne.

A 2017 study published in the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health confirmed an increased risk of pleural mesothelioma for women with secondary exposure and no history of occupational exposure. The study, conducted in Italy, found of the 1,063 cases of mesothelioma, 35 were caused by second-hand exposure. Of the 35 victims, 33 were women and two were men.


Litigation Against API Inc.

In the late 1990s, API faced at least 700 asbestos-related lawsuits. Since API was a distributor for Owens Corning, which also filed bankruptcy due to its asbestos use, API’s liabilities grew. As a result, API began paying out more significant settlement amounts.

In 2001 and 2003, API paid two trial verdicts totaling $9.4 million. API filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy shortly after. The trust was funded with $94 million in anticipation of future claims.


API Inc. Asbestos Settlements and Payment Percentage

In determining the funding amounts for the API Inc asbestos settlement trust, experts determined most of the claims are a result of exposure in Minnesota or North Dakota. The trust specifies five categories of disease:

Disease Compensation
Malignant mesothelioma $316, 250
Lung Cancers $137,050
Other Cancers $73,800
Asbestosis $57,200
Pleural disease $31,150

Allowed Liquidated Value for North Dakota:

Disease Compensation
Malignant mesothelioma $117,087
Lung Cancers $44,777
Other Cancers $16,884
Asbestosis $16,500
Pleural disease $12,000

All claims are subject to a 35% payment percentage, which ensures there will be enough funding in the trust for future claimants. The claims are handled on a first-in, first-out order.

The trust requires the following information as evidence of exposure to qualify for funding:

Categories I, II, IV and V — malignant mesothelioma, lung cancers, asbestosis and pleural disease, respectively

  • Claimant must provide a medical report indicating a malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis or pleural disease diagnosis.
  • The claim must establish a 10-year latency period between the times of initial exposure to the date of the diagnosis.
  • In the case of pleural disease, the claimant must also provide X-rays, CT scans or pathological tests that document pleural plaques.

Category III – other cancers

  • Claimant must provide a medical report with a diagnosis of one of the following asbestos-related cancers:
    • Colorectal
    • Laryngeal
    • Esophageal
    • Pharyngeal
  • Claimant must provide a medical statement to demonstrate one of the following:
    • Bilateral interstitial lung disease
    • Bilateral pleural disease, asbestos-related pleural plaques or unilateral diaphragmatic plaques
    • Pathological evidence of asbestosis
  • The claim must establish a 10-year latency period between the times of initial exposure to the date of the cancer diagnosis.

The trust also allows for two other types of claims, which are available depending on individual circumstances:

  • Extraordinary claim

If a claimant has long-term and direct exposure to API asbestos specifically, the claimant may be eligible for an extraordinary claim. The trustee may award the claimant an amount that exceeds the allowed liquidation value.

  • Exigent hardship claim or extreme hardship claim

Claimants facing extreme financial hardship due to an asbestos-related disease may file for an exigent hardship claim. The trustee determines if the claimant has immediate financial need based on information submitted by the claimant.

To confirm an asbestos disease is related to API Inc., claimants can submit a work history, company records, deposition testimony, invoices, affidavits or other credible documentation to establish a connection to API Inc. asbestos. If a claim does not meet the Minnesota or North Dakota criteria, the trustee can review it to determine if it is compensable.

If you or someone you know has an asbestos-related disease and may have had contact with API, Inc. products, contact our attorneys today for assistance with filing a claim.

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Reviewed by Daniel Wasserberg

Attorney and On-Site Legal Advocate

Daniel Wasserberg was a New York metropolitan area “Super Lawyer Rising Star” from 2013 to 2018 (attorneys under age 40), and a Super Lawyer in 2019. In 2017, Daniel was named a “Top 100 Civil Litigator” by the National Trial Lawyers organization. This recognition is rarely awarded to attorneys under the age of 40. Daniel is proud to call himself a Trial Lawyer, and is often asked to speak at gatherings of the nation’s leading attorneys, from both sides of the bar.

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