Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Berkshire firms accused of withholding asbestos victims' claims

Airborne asbestos fibers seem harmless enough, until an individual inhales them. The fibers attach to lung tissue causing breathing problems, cancer and death. Asbestos exposure occurs naturally and through commercial products that contain the material.

Asbestos' commercial benefits has outweighed public health concerns for many years. Even today, the use of the substance is not banned entirely in U.S. manufacturing. Victims of asbestos injuries often don't learn they are ill until decades after the fibers have had a chance to cause irreversible damage.

Personal injury attorneys have helped thousands of asbestos-ravaged plaintiffs or victims' relatives receive compensation through claim settlements or court cases. The insidious fibers require years to create deadly medical conditions like asbestosis or mesothelioma. Sometimes, stricken victims wait many more years or die before negligence claims are resolved.

Asbestos risk comes back to insurance companies, responsible for paying victims' damages. Subsidiaries of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the company best known for its billionaire founder Warren Buffett, carry asbestos insurance policies, many which are risk purchases made from other insurers.

Media reports, claiming inside information about Berkshire-controlled insurance companies, say internal policies emphasize business profits over asbestos litigants' compensation. Resolute Management Inc. and National Indemnity Co. have been accused of "bad faith" practices by delaying or refusing to pay asbestos victims' claims.

Berkshire's critics say the insurers avoid claim payments, even by extending litigation, just to keep money "floating." Insurance payouts eat away at policy premium revenues used for company investments. Every day an insurance payment is delayed, the business makes a potential profit.

Companies being sued for asbestos liability are also angry with Berkshire's claim delays. Defendants insured by Berkshire's companies have filed suit to finalize court battles.

Plaintiffs' often have little time to play waiting games. Asbestos-linked conditions often turn fatal quickly, once diagnosed. Case resolution and rightful compensation are vital for victims and the people who face a future without them.


Source: 
10news.com, "Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries deny, delay asbestos, hazard claims, suits, insiders allege" Mark Greenblatt, Oct. 06, 2013

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Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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