The Multinational Monitor


G L O B A L   N E W S W A T C H

Asbestos Companies to Pay $1.4 to Asbestos Victim's Family

Four British and U.S. companies agreed last month in an out of court settlement to pay a total of $1.4 million to the family of a 32-year-old U.S. man who died of cancer and asbestosis after using an asbestos-based fire-and soundproofing spray.

The wife and children of Richard Bond of St. Louis, Missouri sued Turner-Newall Ltd. and J.R. Roberts Ltd., one of its subsidiaries-both of London-as well as American-based AC and S and Armstrong Cork Inc. for $10 million two years ago, alleging that the manufacturers sold and distributed a harmful product without issuing a warning.

The family's attorney, James E. Hullverson, said the out-of-court settlement, approved by U.S. District Judge John K. Regan, "was more than double any other settlement " of its type in the United States.

Bond had used the spray, brand-named Limpet, some 17 years before his death on May 22, 1979. Limpet contains raw asbestos fibers which caused asbestosis and cancer of the lining of Bond's lungs, according to Hullverson. Although the companies "knew about the hazards of asbestos since the '20 s and have been required to warn users" of the product's hazards since the early '60 s, Hullverson said, they failed to do so.

At the time Bond used Limpet, the companies were not required by law to issue a warning label, but "if they knew it would cause asbestosis, they had a duty to warn the public," Hullverson explained.

Turner-Newall and its subsidiary J.R. Roberts initially put Limpet on the market. AC and S and Armstrong Cork are U.S. distributors of the product.

Under the settlement, Turner-Newall and J.R. Roberts agreed to pay Bond's family $650,000, and AC and S agreed to pay another 650,000. Armstrong Cork Inc. agreed to pay $100,000.

A spokesperson for Armstrong Cork Inc. said the company "makes it a practice not to comment on litigation such as this."

More than 25,000 Americans have filed 12,000 damage suits against 260 firms which are manufacturers, distributors and users of asbestos, according to the Asbestos Litigation Reporter-making asbestos damage claims the largest group of product liability litigation against U.S. industry in history. Many of these suits have been settled out of court; an industry group estimates that the average cost of settlements and awards is $75,000 per plaintiff.

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