Asbestos Bankruptcy Conference Coming in June

by

K.J. McElrath

 

Come June 20th,  Perrin Conferences will be holding an event on asbestos litigation in Chicago, Illinois. This year's conference will feature a Judicial Roundtable on Bankruptcy Trusts, which according to the press release, will feature "compelling presentations from plaintiff and defense represent both perspectives and deliver robust debates regarding a changing Bankruptcy environment."

 

At the heart of these discussions will be Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, specifically Section 524(g). This should be of great interest to anyone who has been injured by asbestos exposure and is either presently involved in litigation or plans to bring legal action against the corporations responsible. You see, when it comes to liability, bankruptcy and debt obligations, corporations  - despite their claim that they are somehow "persons" and therefore entitled to human rights and protections – are really quite different from you and me as natural persons.

 

As an individual, natural human being, if you are bankrupted by medical bills (or any other reason, even if it's beyond your control), your options for what is euphemistically known as "bankruptcy protection" are extremely limited these days (and I'll get into the "why" of that in a moment). In most cases, you would be forced into Chapter 13. After being forced to go through the humiliation of  "debt counseling" (provided by a private, for-profit company), you would then eventually be put on a "payment plan" for three to five years. If you followed this religiously, at the end of this period, any remaining debts would in theory be discharged – but you would still be exiled from our nation's sorry joke of a financial system for up to ten years as punishment for your carelessness and failure to take "personal responsibility."

 

On the other hand, if you met certain income requirements (namely penury), you might qualify for Chapter 7. Under this part of the law, all your debts could be  be discharged – but only after you have liquidated everything you own, And, you would still be ineligible to get loans or credit of any kind for up to ten years. Chances are, you would find it very difficult to secure employment as well.

 

For corporations however, there's Chapter 11 "protection."  The legal terminology and language used in this legislation is complex for the average layperson; in essence, however, it leaves the debtor – in this case, the corporation – in charge of its assets and allows it to carry on "business as usual." Unlike you or I as private individuals in bankruptcy, a corporation in Chapter 11 qualifies for very favorable terms on loans, provided the lender receives first dibs on earnings. In addition, an automatic stay is imposed meaning that the corporation cannot be sued by its creditors until the issue can be resolved in court (and with the huge number of corporate sycophants sitting on Federal benches these days, you can be certain that such resolution does not happen quickly).

 

Now, we come to the part that relates to asbestos. This is known as Section 524(g). Some of you may recall a U.S. senator from Tennessee named Bill Frist, whose father became a billionaire by making obscene profits from America's savage and parasitic health care "system" as well as defrauding Medicare. Frist was among those back in 2004 and 2005 that led the charge to rewrite America's bankruptcy code so as to protect the wealthy and corporations while stomping on the face of working people and the middle class with the corporate jackboot.

 

Section 524(g) was designed to protect companies who exposed workers to asbestos by allowing them to put money into a "trust fund" against future litigation. In short, asbestos companies are protected from litigation – and asbestos victims wind up having to file claims against the trust instead.

 

Meanwhile, people who were exposed to asbestos in the 1970s and 1980s are only now beginning to show symptoms of asbestos disease. Figures from the Environmental Working Group say that 10,000 people a year (about 30 people a day) continue to contract asbestos disease in the U.S., and that it is responsible for the death of 1 out of every 125 men over the age of fifty.

 

What are the chances that any trust fund set up by greedy corporations is going to cover all of those claims – particularly now that the agenda seems to be to rid society of "useless eaters" (meaning the sick, the aged and the unemployable)?

 

Meanwhile, if you have a spare $795, you can register for the upcoming conference to learn more about the course of asbestos litigation and how corporations plan to further protect their own interests at the expense of the rest of us – including asbestos victims.

 

 

 

Sources

 

N/A. "June 2011, Perrin Conferences Presents the Asbestos Bankruptcy Conference." PRWeb (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/05/26/prweb8479994.DTL). Updated 26 May 2011. Retrieved 27 May 2011/

 

N/A. "The Asbestos Epidemic in America." Environmental Working Group (http://www.ewg.org/sites/asbestos/facts/fact1.php). Retrieved 27 May 2011.