A prior post on this blog (March 6, 2009) provided information regarding the Manville Trust 1) reducing data available from the trust and 2) ending its requirement that claimants submit social security numbers. The Trust’s CRMC administrator has now advised that the reason it dropped the social security number requirement was to comply with an opinion from legal counsel, with the opinion apparently focused on persons who work in the United States without a social security number (which to me would seem to be "illegal aliens.") His email also states that "product identification" evidence is required from the claimant, that duplicate checking is performed at the Manville Trust, and that three such claims have been filed to date.

So, that’s an interesting explanation. Now the question is: will the Manville Trust return to its prior practice of licensing its data to outside experts and disclosing country-specific data regarding "foreign" claims so that they can use the data as in the past to understand what’s happening with overseas claims to asbestos trusts.

Note also that the CRMC website no longer contains the previously posted notice regarding social security numbers. The website instead now has a notice that explains the policy change in more detail – it states the following:

"Updated on 11/11/08
— The Manville Trust changed its policy with respect to requiring a SSN for claimants exposed in the United States. This position was based on a legal opinion that individuals without SSN‘s who were exposed to Johns-Manville asbestos in the United States may file a claim against the Trust. This can occur in unusual instances, such as when a claimant is a foreign citizen who worked temporarily in the United States. Claimants in such circumstances are subject to increased evidentiary requirements to support their asbestos exposure allegations. If you are an electronic filer you will receive a notice via the message board indicating that a MV-Exposure Document is required. Examples of evidence that would be sufficient for meeting this requirement would include: work history records, deposition materials, affidavits, etc. Furthermore, claimant duplicate checking continues using the claimant’s first name, middle initial, last name and date of birth. "

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The specifics of the communications were as follows.

I followed up on the March 6, 2009 blog entry by sending an email to the trust with the link to the blog entry regarding the trust’s changes. Mr. Garelick, counsel for CRMC, responded with a March 10 email (full text pasted below) providing additional information on the trust’s action regarding social security numbers.

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Dear Mr. Hartley,

Thank you for bringing to my attention your March 6, 2009 blog entry regarding Manville Trust claims data. I believe you misunderstood the reason for, and impact of, the Trust’s recent policy change regarding submission of claimant Social Security numbers ("SSNs").

In November of 2008, the Manville Trust changed its policy with respect to requiring an SSN for claimants exposed in the United States. This position was based on a legal opinion that individuals without SSN‘s who were exposed to Johns-Manville asbestos in the United States may file claims against the Trust. This can occur in unusual instances, such as when a claimant is a foreign citizen who worked temporarily in the United States. Claimants in such circumstances are subject to increased evidentiary requirements to support their asbestos exposure allegations.

When such a claim is filed, the law firm filing on behalf of the claimant, or the claimant, is required to provide evidence to the Trust of exposure to Johns-Manville asbestos in the United States. If the documentation is approved the claim is processed accordingly. Examples of evidence that would be sufficient for meeting this requirement would include: work history records, deposition materials, affidavits, etc. Furthermore, claimant duplicate checking continues using the claimant’s first name, middle initial, last name and date of birth. To date, three (3) claims have been filed without SSNs.

–Jared Garelick
Jared S. Garelick
Senior Attorney
Claims Resolution Managment Corporation (CRMC)
3110 Fairview Park Drive, Suite 200
P.O. Box 12003
Falls Church, VA 22042-0683
Tel. (703) 205-0836
Fax (703) 205-6248