Here in Minnesota, many thousands of employees of Honeywell International and some of its subsidiaries were exposed to asbestos while on the job. These workers sometimes developed mesothelioma. Those subsidiaries included AlliedSignal, Inc., Bendix Friction Materials and the North American Refractories Company (NARCO).
Over time, costly mesothelioma liability forced some of these companies, including NARCO, into bankruptcy. To protect the rightful claims of mesothelioma victims who had not yet discovered their illness, the bankruptcy court forced Honeywell to set up a trust fund to which the mesothelioma victims could apply for compensation.
Now, Honeywell is suing the NARCO trust administrators, claiming that they have been paying out unsubstantiated claims, squandering the assets and mismanaging the trust.
The trust administrators have filed a counter-claim against Honeywell. They claim that the company is trying to get out of paying damages to people who developed mesothelioma or lung cancer after being exposed to NARCO’s products.
The NARCO trust has long been acrimonious
Honeywell owned NARCO between approximately 1979 and 1986. NARCO manufactured products laden with asbestos until approximately 1980.
NARCO declared bankruptcy more than a decade ago after facing billions of dollars in asbestos injury claims. Honeywell agreed to help fund the NARCO trust since it owned the company for part of the period when it was producing hazardous materials.
Since the trust began operating, it has paid out approximately $523 million. The trust estimates that Honeywell will be obligated to pay up to $150 million annually, and there is no end date to these payments because of mesothelioma’s long latency period, which keeps many people from realizing they have been affected by asbestos, often for decades.
Ultimately, Honeywell estimates that it might have to pay out $2.3 billion in NARCO claims. However, Honeywell wants to settle all current and future claims now for a one-time payment of about $506 million.
According to Bloomberg, there have been years of acrimony between Honeywell and the NARCO trust. These lawsuits are only the latest in a long-running effort by Honeywell to minimize its liability for NARCO-related claims.
“Honeywell has evidence of severe and abusive mismanagement of the NARCO Trust, including that the Trust has squandered its assets and has paid claimants who have not demonstrated exposure to any NARCO product,” Honeywell said in a statement.
“The improper purpose of Honeywell’s actions is to deny or limit compensation to very ill asbestos victims in order to improve its own bottom line,” responded the NARCO trust administrators.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, work with Sieben Polk, P.A. We have decades of experience fighting the very companies that may have exposed you to asbestos.