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Asbestos Dispute Settles for $575M

After a seven-year legal tangle, the asbestos and dividends claims dispute between British American Tobacco (BAT) and a United States roofing company has been settled for $575 million.
According to news reports, the legal dispute began between BAT and the United States roofing company, Flintkote after negotiations for past asbestos claims were not settled. Flinkote, a company that once used asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in their products, was bought out by BAT’s subsidiary, Imperial Tobacco Canada, in 1986.

Flinkote requested Imperial Tobacco Canada take over some of the asbestos lawsuits that were still lingering over the company’s head. BAT agreed to take on the cases, settling them for $575 million, with the request that they are released from all liability regarding current and future asbestos-related claims against Flinknote.

“Today’s agreement in principle of the dividend claims and the asbestos-related liabilities brings this long-running litigation to an end,” a statement from BAT read. “Under the terms of the proposed settlement, Imperial Tobacco will obtain protection from current and potential future Flintkote-related asbestos liability claims in the United States.”

Tobacco Companies and Asbestos

According to Shane MacGuill, an analyst for Euromonitor, North America has a long history of lawsuits against tobacco companies. In addition, according to news documents, these tobacco companies generally fight tooth and nail to ensure they aren’t held liable for asbestos-related issues. In an alleged internal document created by the attorneys representing tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds, their aim was to make sure that the plaintiffs spent all their money.

In recent years, however, with more education and enlightenment shining upon the effects of asbestos, tobacco companies have become much more vulnerable when trying to defend their claims that they aren’t to blame for asbestos exposure, as studies have shown how many tobacco companies have played part in negligent asbestos exposure.

A good example of tobacco negligence happened between 1952 to 1956, when over 12 billion Kent cigarettes were manufactured by R Lorillard Company with asbestos in the filters. During this time, and even after their cigarettes were found to contain asbestos, the company continued to make Kent cigarettes without telling their consumers that they were using asbestos.

Although R Lorillard Company never lost any cases against those who filed against them for smoking-related lung cancer, diseases caused by asbestos are completely different, as the manufacturers have the legal obligation to warn people of the risks and dangers associated with inhaling asbestos fibers.

In addition to placing consumers at risk, people who worked for tobacco companies that used asbestos also face severe health risks. In fact, at least two former R Lorillard workers won out-of-court settlements with the company after developing asbestos-related illnesses. Since the details of the settlement amounts were kept confidential, the company has so far refused to discuss asbestos exposure in their work factories.

Asbestos exposure has been widely proven to cause life-threatening diseases such as malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, and asbestos-related lung cancer. Once asbestos fibers are inhaled, it’s impossible for the body’s system to completely eliminate them. Over time, these tiny, odorless fibers begin to attack the body, generally in the abdominal area and/or the lining of the lungs.

Legal Resources for Asbestos Exposure

If you or a loved one have been injured due to negligent exposure to asbestos, you may be eligible for substantial compensation. For more information and for a free, no-obligation legal consultation, we encourage you to contact our leading mesothelioma lawyers today.

Sources:

  1. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/19/britishamericantobacco-brief-idUSFWN0U204320141219