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With its roots in smelting and refining, ASARCO is a large-scale producer of copper, lead, alloys and other metals.The company began in 1889 with the name the American Smelting and Refining Company. Today, ASARCO, an acronym, produces about 375 million pounds of metals from mines across the southwest United States.
The American Smelting and Refining Company started when existing metal mines in Mexico and Colorado merged. In the years that followed, the company purchased mines across Arizona, Texas, Mexico and South America. The American Smelting and Refining Company changed its name to ASARCO in 1975. The company was purchased by Grupo Mexico, a mining firm, in 1999.
Much of the ASARCO asbestos exposure happened at the company’s plants that are scattered throughout the Midwest and the company’s asbestos mine in Canada. Any employee of ASARCO from 1952 through 1994 may have occupational asbestos exposure. The following jobs were considered high risk for asbestos exposure:
- Miners(Blasters, Drillers)
- Factory Workers
- Truck Drivers
Additionally, loved ones of ASARCO employees were at risk for secondary asbestos exposure, as someone who came into close contact with them may have had contact with asbestos due to that interaction. ASARCO employees may have brought asbestos fibers home on their clothing, and their loved ones may also have been exposed to asbestos when laundering clothing, in close contact like hugging or kissing, or if the fibers embedded themselves in furniture or rugs.
Exposed to Asbestos
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How Was The Trust Formed?
Facing more than 100,000 lawsuits for asbestos claims, ASARCO filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late 2000. The company’s reorganization plan was approved in 2009 and a trust was formed to handle the claims. The ASARCO Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust started accepting claims in 2010.
In addition to the personal-injury claims, several local and state governments have sued ASARCO for environmental damages. The company is responsible for 20 Environmental Protection Agency Superfund sites across the US. Overall, the trust’s initial payment percentage was 22 percent for many claims. The scheduled value for mesothelioma is $170,000. In March 2014, the trustees agreed to allow any claim for mesothelioma to be awarded up to six times the scheduled value.
ASARCO Subsidiaries & Asbestos Exposure
The two largest ASARCO-owned businesses are known for their abundant use of asbestos.In the bankruptcy filing, the following ASARCO subsidiaries were named as subsidiary debtors associated with their use of asbestos:
- Black Lake – Also known as Lake Asbestos Quebec or LAQ, this tremendous open-pit mine supplied massive amounts of asbestos to the US. LAQ was created when ASARCO realized the potential to get asbestos from the lake bottom, the company drained the lake and created a mining pit. Workers removed raw asbestos fibers for use in manufacturing.
- CAPCO (Cement Asbestos Products Company) – This company, an ASARCO subsidiary, manufactured underground cement pipe products that used asbestos as a binding agent. The pipes themselves were a made from a mixture of asbestos, silica and cement.
Claims Against ASARCO
Those who make claims against ASARCO, like with many other asbestos trust funds, have two claim review process options: expedited review and individual review.
Those who successfully undergo expedited reviews are offered a particular compensation value if they provide sufficient evidence of their illness based on the Medical and Exposure Criteria for Qualification as outlined in the trust. The following is the schedule of payments for Bondex expedited reviews for each listed medical condition:
|Mesothelioma (Level VIII)||$170,000|
|Lung Cancer I (Level VII)||$60,000|
|Lung Cancer II (Level VI)||None|
|Other Cancer (Level V)||$20,000|
|Severe Asbestosis (Level IV)||$50,000|
|Asbestosis/ Pleural Disease (Level III)||$7,500|
|Asbestosis/ Pleural Disease (Level II)||$3,000|
|Other Asbestos Disease (Level I Cash Discount Payment)||$400|
Claimants can also choose to go through individual review, which adjusts the value of the compensation the individual’s circumstances among which include how the asbestos-related disease affected their work and household, how the claimant came into contact with the asbestos, their industry, and history of exposure.
Notably, Level II and Level I diseases as defined by the Trust Distribution Procedures, do not have an average compensation amount. Average compensation values for all other diseases covered by the Trust Distribution Procedures are listed below:
|Mesothelioma (Level VIII)||$280,000|
|Lung Cancer I (Level VII)||$690,000|
|Lung Cancer II (Level VI)||$15,000|
|Other Cancer (Level V)||$32,000|
|Severe Asbestosis (Level IV)||$70,000|
|Asbestosis/ Pleural Disease (Level III)||$8,000|
|Asbestosis/ Pleural Disease (Level II)||None|
|Other Asbestos Disease (Level I Cash Discount Payment)||None|
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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.Learn More
- ASARCO. “ASARCO Subsidiaries File Chapter 11 Proceedings”. Retrieved from http://www.asarco.com/wp-content/uploads/2005%20April%2011%20Press%20Release.pdf
- Jarman, Max. “Asarco LLC files plan to settle environmental, asbestos debt”. Retrieved from http://tucsoncitizen.com/morgue/2008/08/19/94196-asarco-llc-files-plan-to-settle-environmental-asbestos-debt/