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Investigation regarding fraud may jeopardize asbestos litigation

Some may say that certain businesses across the country, including some here in Ohio, continue to try to keep victims from receiving the compensation they deserve. Even for those involved in or contemplating asbestos litigation, their path to restitution for illnesses resulting from exposure to this toxic substance could get more challenging. The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into allegations of fraud as it pertains to victims receiving settlements from trusts set up by companies whose aim is to limit their monetary liability.

The trusts were set up during a time when companies manufacturing or routinely working with asbestos filed bankruptcy. Money was placed into these trusts to pay victims who filed claims when they were exposed or became ill. Some companies are now saying that settlements are approved and disbursed from these trusts even without substantial evidence of need.

In one case, a bankruptcy court judge commented that there seemed to be misrepresentation going on by the victims and their attorneys. A victim may receive settlements from more than one trust considering the fact that the exposure could have occurred across many companies. Should a victim be denied the maximum amount of compensation available because one company's trust already settled?

That question may require an answer from the courts at some point in the future depending on the result of the DOJ's investigation. In the meantime, Ohio residents who suffer illnesses due to exposure to this toxic substance may benefit from determining whether asbestos litigation would be a viable option under the circumstances. If it is, it would be beneficial to discuss the matter further with an attorney experienced in this area of law.

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