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  • Kirk Hartley

Manville Trust Issues Largely Useless Annual Report for 2013

The Johns-Manville asbestos trust report for year end 2013 is out and online. The report is one of the least useful and least informative reports ever issued by the Manville Trust, in keeping with its troubling retreat into secrecy over the last several years. The Trust’s year end 2013 operations report is limited to the following:

"For the year ended December 31, 2013 the Trust settled approximately 22,900 personal injury claims for $111.5 million compared to 27,800 claims for $146.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2012. The average settlement amount for the years ended December 31, 2013 and 2012 was approximately $4,900 and $5,300, respectively. For the years ended December 31, 2013 and 2012, the Trust received approximately 24,200 and 31,000 claims, respectively.

Since inception of the Trust in November 1988, the Trust has received 843,300 personal injury claims, excluding 96,100 withdrawn claims, and has settled approximately 819,900. The Trust commenced operations in 1988 with cash, securities and contractual arrangements having a total estimated value of about $2.0 billion and has paid almost $4.5 billion in personal injury claims plus $97.0 million in Co-defendant claims, leaving cash and investments at December 31, 2013 of almost $1 billion.

During the 4th quarter of 2013, the Trust contracted with Towers Watson to prepare a claim forecast beginning January 1, 2014. Once completed, the Trust will review its projected assets and liabilities and determine the appropriate pro rata percentage. No change to the pro rata percentage is being proposed at this time."

In years past, the reports provided useful data, and Manville claiming data could be purchased after payment of a less than $10,000 licensing fee. For example, past reports typically broke down the numbers of claims by disease type, and payment amounts. The trust also used to publish data on claims by and payments to persons overseas. The veil of secrecy should be removed, but there are no signs of interest in transparency despite many parties that one would think would recognize the moral and legal imperative for transparency. Those parties include the Trustees of the Manville Trustees (Richard Falise, Mark Peterson and Edward Robertson), and the General Counsel of the Trust (Jared Garelik).

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About Kirk

Since becoming a lawyer in 1983, Kirk’s over 30 years of practice have focused on advising a wide range of corporations, associations, and individuals (as both plaintiffs and defendants) on both tort and commercial law issues centered around “mass torts.”

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