In North Tonawanda, New York, a company called Durez Plastics Corporation once used raw asbestos in the products they manufactured. Many of this company’s workers handled the asbestos each and every day, and many of those same workers eventually got really sick.
The material came to Durez from another company, Hedman Resources, which seemed to understand that the material they peddled to Durez and to other companies was dangerous, but that didn’t stop them from doing business.
Fast forward a bit to a courtroom in Buffalo, New York, where sat Joe Muir, a longtime Durez employee, and his family. Joe was already seriously ill from the effects of mesothelioma cancer, caused by exposure to asbestos at his workplace. In this courtroom, by the end of the case, the jury saw fit to hold Hedman Resources responsible for Joe’s injuries and awarded him $5.7 million in damages.
However, the Muir family – now without Joe – have yet to see a penny of that settlement.
Why? The companies that insure Hedman Resources won’t pay. These insurers have decided not to live up to their obligations. Now, widow Nancy Muir and three other Durez Plastics Corp. widows need to return to court and sue the insurance companies. It’s just another delay along the road to receiving the compensation they (and their late husbands) deserve.
According to an editorial in The Buffalo News, the women allege that “the insurers made agreements after analyzing hundreds of pending asbestos cases against Hedman and didn’t like the potential for having to pay tens of millions of dollars in claims.”
These agreements have thus far kept them from having to pay the widows.
The insurance companies involved in the dispute are Lamorak Insurance, Seaton Insurance and One Beacon American Insurance. In 2012, they forged agreements which they maintain are legal, insulating them from liability in the Muir case and others.
They say it’s not their responsibility, even though the company they insure has been found liable in a number of asbestos claim settlements – and related cases. So much for “insurance”.
In all, the settlements for the four women equal $13 million and the insurance companies have no intention of paying even a cent, despite everything that’s been proven about the dangers of exposure to raw asbestos and, of course, despite the court verdicts.
“Their hope is you’ll give up,” Nancy Muir explains. “They just carry on and snub their nose at you while you sit back and confront death.”
This battle with insurers is just one stumbling block of many that mesothelioma victims may face in collecting the compensation they deserve. In order to confront the system, which can be difficult, those who suffer from asbestos-related cancer need to be sure they secure the services of a top-notch, experienced lawyer in their fight against those responsible for their injuries.
It’s a wise idea to choose an attorney who is already familiar with the companies you seek to sue or with the industry in which you worked. Look for a local asbestos lawyer who has the knowledge you need to win your case.