Canadian Underwriter

More companies make key asbestos disclosures

August 15, 2002   by Canadian Underwriter

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In its second quarter 10-Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Viacom Inc. said August 14 that it received 9,700 new asbestos-related personal injury claims. In total, the company said it was a party to about 118,000 asbestos claims pending as of June 30. Viacom is a defendant in lawsuits claiming various asbestos-related personal injuries, which allegedly occurred as a result of exposure caused by various products manufactured by Westinghouse, a predecessor, generally prior to the early 1970s. Westinghouse neither produced nor manufactured asbestos , according to the filing. Only a very small percentage of Viacom’s pending asbestos claims that identify the alleged injury contain allegations that the plaintiff’s exposure to asbestos resulted in cancer – in recent filings in which the company knows the nature of the claimed injury, the percentage of cancer claims has been declining significantly. In more than 50 per cent of the claims, the plaintiff hasn’t yet identified the claimed injury, the filing said.

In its SEC filing submitted August 12, Lincoln Electric Holdings Inc. said 781 claims were added to a case alleging asbestos-induced illness, in which it is a co-defendant. There were 26,791 plaintiffs to the case as of June 30. The asbestos claimants seek compensatory and punitive damages, in most cases for unspecified sums, according to the company’s 10Q. The company has been a co-defendant in other similar cases that have been resolved over the last five years involving 9,943 claimants. Of the 9,943 resolved plaintiffs, 9,856 of those claims were dismissed, eight were tried to defense verdicts and 79 were decided in favor of Lincoln Electronic following summary judgment motions.

And Crown Cork & Seal said in its filing August 9 that it has set aside $283 million as of June 30 for pending and future asbestos-related claims. The company said it expects potential liability for pending and future asbestos claims of $283 million to $516 million.

The SEC’s 10-Q form is a report filed quarterly by most reporting companies. It includes unaudited financial statements and provides a continuing view of the company’s financial position during the year. The report must be filed for each of the first three fiscal quarters of the company’s fiscal year and is due within 45 days of the close of the quarter.

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