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Combustion Engineering, formed from the merging of Grieve Grate Company and American Stoker Company, got its start in 1912 in New York City during the rise of the Second Industrial Era. By 1930, the company became the leading designer and manufacturer of fossil and nuclear steam supply systems.
Combustion Engineering, also known as CE, grew over the years through a series of partnerships with other companies, including Superheater Company. Around the same year, CE started work on the earliest nuclear submarines, producing fuel for the U.S. Navy. In the 1990’s, CE merged with Asea Brown Boveria (ABB Group) to be part of the world’s largest electrical engineering company.
How Was the CE Trust Formed?
When the ABB Group acquired CE for $1.6 billion in cash, many in the industry thought it was a lofty price. The ABB Group not only inherited the business but also a growing number of asbestos claims. With the acquisition came more than 200,000 asbestos claims.
In 2006, Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection was approved for Combustion Engineering. The Combustion Engineering Asbestos PI Trust was funded with $1.4 billion. In early 2014, the trustees overseeing the CE trust set the maximum annual amount for the year at $113.3 million. The trust has allocated $98.6 million for Category A claims and $14.7 million for Category B claims. The trust defines Category A claims as severe malignancies and Category B claims as nonmalignant pleural diseases. The maximum value for mesothelioma is $400,000 with the average value at $95,000.
Since asbestos trusts are only funded with a limited amount of money, claimants typically only receive a percentage of the requested funds based on a number of factors. Each trust has a different percent and it changes each year. In 2013, CE’s Category A claims were paid at 87 percent and Category B at 13 percent.
Exposed to Asbestos
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High Risk Jobs for Exposure
There are a large number of workplaces that are at risk for exposure to asbestos. The trust found 1,140 land-based CE boilers with asbestos across the United States and 3,884 vessels with CE asbestos products on board. Also, 118 shipyards and 717 product sites in the U.S. have CE asbestos-containing materials. The land-based boilers were located in a range of businesses from knitting mills to paper companies. This includes colleges, hospitals and beer-brewing plants. The following jobs were considered high risk for asbestos exposure:
- Navy Veterans
- Shipyard Workers
- Knitting Mill Workers
- Chemical Company Employees
- Oil Field Workers
- Boiler Workers
CE’s Asbestos Products
CE developed and manufactured a large number of energy-producing machinery. Asbestos was used to reduce heat, chemical and fire damage as well as for insulation.
The following is a sampling of the company’s more popular products:
- Type-E Stoker Boiler – As CE’s signature boiler, the Type-E was an underfeeder boiler that was known for its consistency and quality. Asbestos was used as an insulator and heat repellent.
- Block Stick – A type of refractory cement, Block Stick is made to endure the highest heats while remaining tensile. This was made with asbestos because of its heat resistance.
Combustion Engineering Asbestos Lawsuits & Payouts
Combustion Engineering faced an increasing number of lawsuits prior to filing for bankruptcy, accelerating from a few hundred per year in the 1970s to 79,000 cases by 2002.
Although Combustion Engineering’s insurance reimbursements helped cover part of their financial liabilities, over time their insurance carriers decreased the percentage they were willing to cover from 66% in the early 1990s to 33% in 2002. This caused Combustion Engineering to be unable to sustain their liabilities, and led to the 2005 bankruptcy resolution that included the creation of the Combustion Engineering 524(g) Asbestos PI Trust where claims against the company shifted away from lawsuits to trust payouts.
Anderson v. Combustion Engineering Inc.
A notable asbestos claim trial for Combustion Engineering was the case of Anderson v. Combustion Engineering Inc. This case is notable because Combustion Engineering chose to appeal the original ruling in this case because of insufficient expert evidence.
Mary Anderson, on behalf of the estate of her deceased husband Jerold Anderson, filed a claim against Combustion Engineering for compensation related to his mesothelioma diagnosis and subsequent death in 1998. A retired machinist who interacted with asbestos during his 40-year employment with the Wisconsin Electric Power Company, Anderson encountered Combustion Engineering asbestos products through the asbestos-containing boiler insulation of 6 out of 8 boilers manufactured by Combustion Engineering or its predecessors.
Though Combustion Engineering appealed citing that there was not sufficient expert evidence to support that the exposure Anderson suffered was due to Combustion Engineering products, the courts decided to uphold the original decision and affirmed that Combustion Engineering was liable for 29% of the total claim, as there had been other asbestos manufacturing plaintiffs that settled prior to the completion of the trial.
Though claims against Combustion Engineering continue to this day, in lieu of going to trial these claims are settled through the Combustion Engineering 234(g) Asbestos PI Trust.
Combustion Engineering Financial Compensation
As with many other companies that manufactured products containing asbestos, Combustion Engineering provides financial assistance through a trust fund. The Combustion Engineering trust allows claimants to select if their claim will undergo Expedited Review or Individual Review, and how much compensation is awarded is based on many factors.
Expedited review claims against Combustion Engineering are typically much quicker, as successful claims are based on a very specific medical/exposure criteria and the scheduled value for those claims does not change.
The expedited review scheduled value for the seven disease levels eligible for Expedited Review per the Trust Distribution Procedures (TDP) is as follows:
|Mesothelioma (Level VIII)||$75,000|
|Lung Cancer I (Level VII)||$25,000|
|Lung Cancer II (Level VI)||None (Individual Review Only)|
|Other Cancer (Level V)||$6,000|
|Severe Asbestosis (Level IV)||$25,000|
|Asbestosis/ Pleural Disease (Level III)||$4,800|
|Asbestosis/ Pleural Disease (Level II)||$1,800|
|Other Asbestos Disease (Level I Cash Discount Payment)||$250 (not subject to the payment percentage)|
If the claimant should choose individual review, their claim would be based on the scheduled value, but adjusted based on factors that indicate the level of severity the damages caused them individually. There are many factors, including age, disability, pain and suffering, how the claimant encountered asbestos-containing products, and other rulings in similar cases.
Following the individual review, the value for the claim may be above or below the scheduled value listed above. Listed below are the average values for claims that underwent the Combustion Engineering Asbestos PI Trust’s individual review process:
|Mesothelioma (Level VIII)||$95,000|
|Lung Cancer I (Level VII)||$35,000|
|Lung Cancer II (Level VI)||$15,000|
|Other Cancer (Level V)||$9,000|
|Severe Asbestosis (Level IV)||$40,000|
|Asbestosis/ Pleural Disease (Level III)||$4,800 (Scheduled Value)|
|Asbestosis/ Pleural Disease (Level II)||$1,800 (Scheduled Value)|
|Other Asbestos Disease (Level I Cash Discount Payment)||$0 (Scheduled Value)|
Whether claimants choose to undergo expedited review or individual review, claims can be processed online or via mail. Settlements from Combustion Engineering are designed to help compensate individuals harmed by asbestos exposure and their families pay for medical bills, costs of living, end of life care, and many other expenses.
Because the payment percentage can fluctuate, and often decreases as the amount within the trust decreases, it is best to speak with someone to discuss if you are eligible to receive compensation for asbestos-related injuries. Find out how to apply today.
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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
- Arndt, Michael. Bloomberg Businessweek. How Asbestos Burned ABB.. Retrieved from http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2002-03-03/how-asbestos-burned-abb
- Berenson, Alex. The New York Times. .A Caldron of Ethics and Asbestos.. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/12/business/a-caldron-of-ethics-and-asbestos.html