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The asbestos-related issues began with Harbison-Walker Refractories, which was founded in the late 1800’s. The company produced fireproof bricks and other materials that contained asbestos. In the late 1960’s, Harbison-Walker merged with Dresser Industries. By early 1997, Dresser and Halliburton merged. The subsidiary became known as DII Industries. At that time, former Vice President Dick Cheney ran Halliburton, an oil pipeline service company. Initially, the merger was considered one of Cheney’s best business moves. That is, until the asbestos lawsuits began.

Halliburton and Asbestos Use

Dresser Industries, a pipeline equipment maker, was known for its rubber joints and packers used in oilfields and natural gas pipelines. All of these products contained asbestos. When Halliburton acquired Dresser, it also inherited 300,000 asbestos claims. The following equipment was used by Halliburton and contained asbestos:

  • Compressors
  • Pumps
  • Insulation
  • Turbines

Asbestos Products

From floor to ceiling, there were dozens of materials that used asbestos. While most of these products are no longer on the market, some of Armstrong’s products still contain asbestos. Government regulations allow some asbestos to be used in some products still. Armstrong World Industry used the following products that contained asbestos:

  • Limpet – Armstrong’s Limpet spray insulation, which was commonly known as flock insulation, was used from 1960 to 1973 and was completely made from asbestos. It was removed from the market because it was vulnerable to impact damage and water penetration.
  • Insulation Board – Used as a standard fire, heat and acoustic insulation, the insulation boards contained between 25 and 40 percent asbestos fiber. These boards were vulnerable to impact damage and deterioration.
  • Vinyl Flooring – Asbestos was also used as an insulator in these tiles. They are known to become brittle and break.

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Workers at Risk

Anyone from blue-collar oil-field workers to white-collar engineers runs the risk of being exposed to toxic levels of asbestos. Those who work for Halliburton, DII Industries, Dresser, Harbison-Walker or Kellogg Brown & Root are particularly at risk. The following is a sampling of occupations that were at high risk for exposure:

  • Boilermakers
  • Drilling crew, including mud engineers
  • Engineers
  • Electricians
  • Iron workers
  • Pipeline construction workers
  • Transport drivers

Secondary Exposure

Workers exposed to asbestos on the job were not the only people affected by related illnesses. The close relatives also suffered, as a lack of industrial hygiene led to asbestos fibers tagging along the journey home. Here family members of workers handling asbestos on the job were being directly exposed to asbestos fibers.

Once any contaminated clothing made it back into the house, the fibers were able to remain in the environment there for years due to the size and texture of asbestos. Oftentimes the workers clothing would be washed along with the family’s other clothing, and just making it into the washer would be enough for further contamination.

How Was the Trust Formed?

As a result of the influx of asbestos lawsuits, Halliburton, Kellogg Brown & Root (later known as KBR), Dresser and some other subsidiaries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The resulting trust is called DII Industries, LLC Asbestos PI Trust and was initially funded with $4 billion in cash and stock. At the time, it was considered the largest asbestos settlement in history. Halliburton claimed its losses from asbestos lawsuits were about $900 million a year from 2002 through 2004.

DII trust claims are paid at 60 percent. That means that DII pays $60 for every $100 of a claim. The compensation amount is limited to ensure there is enough money to pay future claimants. For Halliburton or Non Harbison-Walker claims, the maximum amount paid for a mesothelioma claim is $256,000 with the average being $76,400. For Harbison-Walker claims, the maximum amount is $610,000 with the average amount being $182,000.

Asbestos Litigation

Before deciding on all the details of claim payment percentages and how much to fund the trust with, DII Industry was facing thousands of lawsuits. To be exact, 421,000 claims were filed against the company. 400,000 of them were asbestos related and 21,000 were silica claims, which all gained court approval.

Haliburton, the company that acquired DII Industries, inherited all of these cases and were subsequently responsible for setting up the trust and payment percentages. All of the company’s mess was further complicated by Dick Cheney’s tenure as CEO.

Cheney’s multibillion-dollar contracts in Iraq and Kuwait, providing services to U.S. troops, led to several federal investigations into overbilling and favoritism. All of this on top of the litigation that was ongoing for victims led to a steep downhill road for the company.

Compensation & Average Payout

Asbestos-disease victims who file claims on asbestos bankruptcy funds have two options for payment: Expedited or individual review.

For claimants seeking an expedited settlement, there is typically a set cash payout that can be given out much quicker. Individual reviews will always take longer, but are usually larger than settlement amounts. The choice between which type to file depends on the disease, degree of illness and exposure levels.

DII Industry settlements fall under the Dresser Industries Asbestos Settlement Trust, and the following list are some payout amount examples per disease.

Disease Scheduled Value
Mesothelioma (Level VIII) $60,000-$144,500
Lung Cancer 1 (LevelVII) $9,800-$47,600
Other Cancer (Level V) $8,000-$25,000
Severe Asbestosis (Level IV) $9,900-$31,000
Asbestosis/Pleural Disease (Level III) $2,500-$7,600
Asbestosis/Pleural Diseases (Level II) $1,100-$4,000
Other Asbestos Disease (Level I) $100-$300

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Written and legally 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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