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Company avoids asbestos litigation, but future claims possible

Some asbestos injury victims in Ohio may be feeling let down after a recent decision by a bankruptcy judge. Energy Future Holdings Corporation had hundreds of injury claims related to asbestos exposure before it filed for bankruptcy, which the judge handling the bankruptcy now says the company won't have to pay. While this may not have been the answer that many were hoping for, there may be a renewed opportunity to seek justice through asbestos litigation following the conclusion of the bankruptcy case.

Many of Energy Future's power plants were insulated using the toxic substance asbestos. Workers in these plants were exposed to the asbestos, and years later, claims rolled in to the company to the tune of nearly 400. The bankruptcy judge noted that these types of claims were unavoidable considering the situation.

Unfortunately, that same judge said that those claims could be wiped out through the company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It's unclear why exactly this choice was made as it would have cost the company only $3 million or so every year. That estimate amounts to less than half of one percent of its yearly revenue. Additionally, the judge is not requiring Energy Future to establish a trust that would be used to compensate future asbestos injury claims, although it does have the option to create the trust if it wants.

While anyone suffering the devastating impact of asbestos exposure is likely upset by this ruling, following the company's emergence from bankruptcy it will no longer be able to avoid claims. Ohio workers have the right to a safe environment, and when companies fail to provide that, they can be held liable. For those suffering from mesothelioma or other asbestos related issues, asbestos litigation can be an appropriate course of action in order to seek invaluable compensation.

Source: Bloomberg Business Week, "Energy Future Dodges Asbestos Claimants: Bankruptcy", Bill Rochelle and Sherri Toub, Jan. 9, 2015

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