Owens Corning: cigarettes to blame for asbestos claims

Owens Corning“s claim that it should be reimbursed by tobacco companies for asbestos-related injury claims will go before the Mississippi Supreme Court on 1 October 2003.
Jefferson County Circuit Ju…

Owens Corning“s claim that it should be reimbursed by tobacco companies for asbestos-related injury claims will go before the Mississippi Supreme Court on 1 October 2003. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Lamar Pickard dismissed Owens Corning“s lawsuit in May 2001. Pickard agreed with a special master appointed to the case that Owens Corning“s claim was ruled out by the “remoteness doctrine,” a legal principle under which the company“s claims would be considered secondary, and not direct, injuries. Asbestos companies have put the blame on cigarette smoking for the multi-million dollar claims from thousands of workers for illnesses allegedly caused by asbestos. Owens Corning filed for bankruptcy in 2000 because of increasing costs from asbestos claims. At the time of the bankruptcy filing, Owens Corning estimated it had paid or agreed to pay USD 5 billion in settlement of asbestos damages claims. The supplier of building and industrial material said it faced about USD 2 billion more in asbestos payouts even though it stopped selling insulation containing asbestos more than 25 years ago. The company has paid claims to 440,000 people who said asbestos made them ill. Owens Corning has claimed that tobacco use rather than exposure to asbestos was the cause of the personal injuries to workers. The company also claimed that failure to warn asbestos workers who were smokers of the higher risk of developing lung cancer caused it to pay more lung cancer and individual claims. When asbestos is inhaled it can cause lung cancer and asbestosis, a lung-scarring disease. The dangers of asbestos were identified by doctors in the 1970“s and it stopped being used in products. R.J. Reynolds, based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. in Louisville, Kentucky, were among several tobacco manufacturers named as defendants.