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Manville Faces $69 Billion in Property Damage Suits

June 19, 1985|Associated Press

DENVER — Property damage claims filed against Manville Corp. calling for removal of asbestos insulation total $69 billion, the corporation says.

The total comes from 9,500 suits seeking specific damages out of some 11,000 property damage claims filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court here by a March 1 deadline, company spokesman Cliff Bowers said Monday.

Asbestos, a fire retardant and insulating material long used in construction, was one of the products produced by Johns-Manville, a forerunner company of Manville Corp. Asbestos fibers have since been linked to diseases including lung cancer and a lung condition called asbestosis.

Manville filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code on Aug. 26, 1982, with company officials saying that, even though Manville was in good financial health at the time, looming lawsuits connected with asbestos posed a threat to the corporation.

Bowers said an estimated two-thirds of the property damage claims were filed by private and public schools and school districts. The remainder came from a variety of government entities across the nation, he said.

But Bowers said that many of the claims were "hurriedly done and were grossly overstated," possibly because of the court's cutoff deadline for filing them.

"The vast majority involve removal of asbestos-containing spray-on insulation. We never sold nor manufactured such insulation," Bowers said.

While other claims arose from molded pipe insulation that was once made by Manville, Bowers said: "We feel there is no health hazard arising if it is properly maintained."

No deadline has been set for filing asbestos health-damage claims. It was that type of lawsuit that caused Manville to seek Chapter 11 protection.

Manville projected at that time that the health-related claims could cost the corporation $1.9 billion by the year 2000. Since then, about 6,000 more health claims totaling $12.5 billion have been filed against Manville.

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