CONTACT: Fran Schreiberg, Pro Bono Attorney
Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood, A Professional Law Corporation
(510) 302-1071 (work) + (510) 333-9907 (cell) + fschreiberg@Kazanlaw.com
Energy Future Holdings (EFH), a $36 billion company, with known asbestos claims against it, has filed for bankruptcy and seeks to drastically limit the legal rights of all its past, present and future asbestos victims. All claims must be filed by December 14, 2015.
EFH’s power plants are situated throughout the United States and in several foreign countries. EFH related companies include Ebasco, EECI, Enserch, Lone Star, Luminant and TXU, among others. About 70 companies are part of EFH.
All EFH site employees, contractors, and family members are at risk of having been exposed to asbestos – and thus may become ill in the future with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease.
The bankruptcy court ruled that EFH could set a “bar” date by which all claims must be filed by anyone who was exposed to asbestos from an EFH power plant or due to activities of any of the EFH related companies. Whether or not currently ill, claims must be filed with the the EFH Claims Processing Center by 5 PM Eastern Standard Time on December 14, 2015.
Even if healthy now, a claim must be filed. If no claim is filed by the deadline, those exposed to asbestos who later become ill will have lost all rights to compensation against this corporate giant and its insurance companies.
Action Required Now
Claim forms are available online, but to assure proper filing, seek help from a qualified asbestos attorney. At Kazan Law, there is no charge or fee for this service, nor does filing a claim form obligate a claimant for future representation. Act now before it’s too late!
Asbestos Claims Against Energy Future Holdings Must Be Filed Even If You’re Not Ill
Exposure to asbestos fibers can occur without the victim’s knowledge. Exposure can take place in the vicinity of a specific sites. Even family members can be exposed from a person who was directly exposed at a site when that person unknowingly brings home the fibers on clothing, tools, or even in the family car.
Because people do not know they’ve been exposed to asbestos-containing material, the mid-December deadline may not seem important. Most won’t think about a legal action for an asbestos-related illness when no illness has occurred. Generally there is sufficient time to meet legal deadlines as state law time limits only begin to run after a diagnosis or death occurs. But the Bankruptcy court has set a nationwide deadline and it is extremely short; the December 14 deadline is not fair.
Filing a claim now protects future legal rights.
Information about Asbestos is Available Online
Once asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can damage the lungs and cause cancer. Mesothelioma, for example, is a lethal cancer of the cells lining the lungs or abdomen. It is caused only by exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma can emerge anywhere from 10 to 50 years after asbestos exposure. Those who know they have been exposed should have regular medical evaluations.
Bankruptcy Allows EFH to Escape Responsibility for Potential Asbestos Claims
EFH filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on April 29, 2014. The bankruptcy covers about 70 EFH separate companies and hundreds of powerplants. The bankruptcy request listed assets of $36.5 billion and debt totaling $49.7 billion. Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows EFH to continue normal business operations while it reorganizes its balance sheet. It provides EFH the opportunity to reduce its debt, lower its annual cash interest costs and access significant additional capital – that is to continue in business or be sold.
Normally, the bankruptcy court would establish a special trust fund for future asbestos victims for a company with potential asbestos liability, but in this case did not do so. The court instead allowed EFH to set a bar date – that is a date by which all persons – whether ill now or in the future – must file a claim.
The Kazan Law Firm strenuously objected to the court cutting off the rights of future asbestos victims who were not now ill and could have no idea that in the future they might become ill or die from an asbestos-related disease. It filed a motion asking the court to appoint a legal representative for all future EFH claimants including the current unmanifested asbestos claimants and those who will in the future develop relationships giving rise to such claims; the court denied this request.
A law exists that would have allowed the appointment of a “futures representative” and required an estimate of how much should be set aside for future victims. That approach would have been more fair to those not now ill. But the court refused.
The ruling of the Bankruptcy court will deny future victims their rights.
The deadline applies to everyone – ill or not. Those who have a connection to EFH, to its subsidiaries or to its power plants, and who are not now ill – particularly family members who may have been exposed through asbestos unwittingly brought home from work – can’t imagine becoming ill 20 or more years from now. Although EFH is required to publish notices about the filing deadline in newspapers and to directly contact former employees, among others, many people may simply not understand that this deadline applies to them.
Workers and family members who worked at an EFH site or for one of the EFH companies and may have been exposed to asbestos should talk to a qualified asbestos attorney for help in filing a claim. Your future depends on it.