ADVWG applauds investigation into asbestos bankruptcy trusts

The Asbestos Double-Victims Workgroup (ADVWG) is calling on additional state officials and federal authorities to join 13 states investigating whether several large national asbestos bankruptcy trusts are mismanaging funds, including if they failed to reimburse Medicaid and other medical providers as required in federal secondary payer laws.
In March, attorneys general from the states of AlabamaArkansasKansasLouisianaMichiganMontanaNebraskaNevadaSouth CarolinaSouth DakotaUtahWest Virginia, and Wisconsin joined forces in issuing a Civil Investigation Demand (CID) to four of the nation’s largest bankruptcy trusts. The trusts did not comply with the CID which led to the Utah-based lawsuit asking the court to require compliance.
Those trusts are formed under a law allowing companies with asbestos liability to emerge from a bankruptcy process solvent while creating trusts to pay currents and estimated victims. The AGs are concerned that negligent management of the trusts is cutting the amounts available to help victims, a disproportionate number of whom are veterans, and may not be repaying health care costs. Those victims may be unaware of possible claw-back actions coming down the pike.
The multi-state investigation comes on the heels of the “Garlock” case in North Carolina when a federal judge disclosed that evidence had been suppressed in all 15 cases where he had allowed specific discovery. Both the CID and the Utah lawsuit make clear links to the Garlock case and represent the first law enforcement action on the judge’s findings.
Sara Warner, Courts Monitor publisher, is a founding member and spokesperson for the ADVWG.

Vets Already A ‘Political Football’

How odd is it that a national Veterans Administration scandal is unfolding just as the nation observes Memorial Day? Reports of false documentation, delayed treatment and even deaths brought an address from President Obama last week, including his promise that anyone responsible will be “punished.” The president also expressed the hope that the scandal does not become “another political football.”

AP photo as part of the report from Journal Sentinel on 3/24/14

AP photo as part of the report from Journal Sentinel on 3/24/14

But of course, it will and we should note that in the world of asbestos damage claims, veterans have always been part of the debate. Because the military used so much asbestos decades ago, many vets are getting mesothelioma today. The most recent high-profile example of how that plays out came as Wisconsin passed reforms on asbestos-focused bankruptcy trusts.

Victims’ attorneys argued that increased transparency was unfair to veterans and would make gaining compensation more difficult. And several veterans groups lobbied against the measure. But the AMVETS group countered that bogus claims could deplete the trusts and thus reduce payouts. The “tort reform” advocates say that opposing vets eventually dropped their opposition, but that was only after the governor assured them he was going to sign the legislation, according to the Journal Sentinel newspaper.

You can follow the vets-as-political-football here.