Mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, affects nearly 3,000 Americans each year. However, over one-third of the victims are military veterans. Due to the extended latency period of the disease some veterans exposed to asbestos between the 1950s and 1970s are just now exhibiting symptoms, and are dealing with their mounting medical bills. Financial relief will soon be available for some of these veterans through the formation of a fund designated for compensation to Navy veterans who were harmed by asbestos disease.
Under a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization plan, Leslie Controls, Inc, a manufacturer that supplied asbestos-containing gaskets and valves to the U.S. Navy from the 1940s until the 1980s, has established an “Asbestos PI Trust” available to Navy veterans.
According to the plan, Leslie’s parent company, CIRCOR, made a contribution of $74 million to the trust on behalf of itself and other CIRCOR-related parties. Leslie contributed $1 million with a yearly 5% interest payment.
The plan includes a pay level based on the medical issue affecting the claimant. Currently, a “powerhouse and below-deck Naval station claim” of mesothelioma will be awarded $100,000 with a maximum value of $350,000. Any “construction and maintenance claims” for mesothelioma will receive $25,000 with a maximum value of $125,000. Amounts are also established for lung cancer and asbestosis.
Asbestos was used as insulation around steam pipes and valves and led to the exposure of hundreds of thousands of Navy veterans to the cancer-causing mineral fibers over the decades. Asbestos is a known carcinogen that has been linked to respiratory diseases, including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. The symptoms of mesothelioma can be managed through chemotherapy and radiation. There is no cure for the disease.
Claims may be filed with the trust starting in March 2012. All claims are subject to review and approval by the trust committee.