The claims administration protocol is being developed, and the approximate dollar value to be received by each property owner, is being calculated.
The dollar value amount to be received will depend upon the number of valid timely claims, and will be subject to Court-approval.
Rust Consulting Inc., the claims processing agent, received approximately 14,000 claims from Canadian property owners. We are in the process of reviewing those 14,000 claims and consulting with our expert to develop criteria for evaluating the claims.
We anticipate that the claims administration process will hopefully be finalized within the next 60-90 days and that we will be in a position to apply to the Court for an order approving the process, following which payments can be made.
Overall, the entire process including actual payment to all claimants with a valid claim, will likely take 12-15 months.
Further details will follow as the claim process is finalized and the claims are examined and approved.
We are presently working with the claims administrator to develop the distribution protocol, which will require court-approval.
We are hopeful that we can secure court-approval in the near future so that settlement administration can begin on an intensive basis by mid-2015 with a goal of completion by mid-2016.
In the late 1970’s through to the 1990’s, W.R. Grace & Co. (“Grace”) and various of its subsidiaries were facing hundreds of thousands of asbestos-related claims.
In April, 2001, Grace and its subsidiaries located in the United States filed voluntary petitions for bankruptcy protection in the US Court under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.
At the same time, Grace Canada was granted an order pursuant to the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
Scarfone Hawkins LLP and Lauzon Belanger Lesperance S.E.N.C.R.L. were appointed Representative Counsel for all Canadians with claims relating to Zonolite Attic Insulation (“ZAI”) in their homes.
Litigation and Settlement of CDN ZAI Claims
An extensive litigation process was undertaken in order to have a trial of liability-related issues associated with claims arising from ZAI. The US Court ultimately determined that the contamination and release of small amounts of asbestos from ZAI did not pose an unreasonable risk of harm.
Representative Counsel were able to arrive at a settlement in Canada with respect to the treatment and payment of ZAI-related claims.
Minutes of Settlement were entered into in September, 2008, approved by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in October, 2008, amended in November, 2009 and further approved by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in December, 2009.
Grace will make payment of approximately $8.6 million which, after deduction of legal fees and administration costs, will be distributed to Canadian homeowners who filed CDN ZAI property damage (“PD”) claims before the Court-ordered Bar Date of December 31, 2009. Thousands of Canadian homeowners submitted claims.
Canadian ZAI personal injury (“PI”) claims will be dealt with through an Asbestos Personal Injury Trust which has been established in the United States as part of the overall resolution and settlement.
Representative Counsel hope that the implementation of the Canadian ZAI PD Settlement claims process will begin in the next 90 days and will be completed by year-end.
Representative Counsel will also be available to assist any individuals who have Canadian ZAI PI claims that are to be prosecuted through the US Asbestos PI Trust.
Additional information in respect of the claims process is available at www.graceclaims.com.
If you have further inquiries, email us at CDNZAI@shlaw.ca or telephone us at 905-526-4388.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
1. WHY DID I RECEIVE THIS LETTER?
You received this letter because you filed a claim with Rust Consulting Inc., claims processing agent, prior to the Claims Bar Date of December 31, 2009 as referenced below.
2. HOW DID THIS SETTLEMENT COME ABOUT?
ZAI is a loose-fill, non-roll vermiculite home attic insulation which may contain naturally-occurring asbestos. It was sold from approximately the 1920s to 1984. It was sold or manufactured by Grace under the brand name of “Zonolite Attic Insulation” and by others under various names including Attic Fill, House Fill, Home Insulation, Zonolite Insulating Fill, Econofill, Quiselle Insulating Fill, Sears Micro Fill, Ward’s Mineral Fill, Wickes Attic Insulation, Cashway Attic Insulation, Attic Plus, Unifil, and Mica Pellets Attic Insulation. The granules are shaped like a small nugget and expanded like an accordion and may have a silvery, gold translucent or brownish colour. After years in the attic, the granules may darken to black or grey. ZAI may be found underneath insulation that was installed later on.
It was determined that the ZAI may include asbestos. A number of lawsuits were commenced.
Grace and its related companies filled for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. The companies also received Court protection in Canada under the provisions of the Companies Creditors Arrangements Act (“CCAA”).
A settlement was entered into to pay valid Canadian ZAI claims.
Canadian ZAI property damage claims (“Canadian ZAI PD”) claims will be paid from a fund established in Canada.
Canadian ZAI PD claims were required to be filed by December 31, 2009.
In addition, Canadian ZAI personal injury claims (“Canadian ZAI PI claims”) will be channelled to a U.S. trust. Valid claims will be paid by the trust pursuant to trust distribution procedures.
Canadian ZAI PD claims relate only to property located in Canada and do not include claims related to personal injury.
3. HOW MUCH WILL I RECEIVE?
Collectiva, the Court-appointed claims administrator will make payments pursuant to certain procedures set-out in the settlement agreement for valid Canadian ZAI PD claims, as approved by the Court.
Collectiva has established the criteria to determine what is necessary to satisfy and establish an allowed Canadian ZAI claim.
There are two levels of compensation. All property owners who can prove the existence of ZAI in their property will receive a one-time lump-sum payment of $300.00. Individuals who are able to prove the presence of ZAI at their property and that they incurred costs for major remediation of that property, will be entitled to a pro rata distribution (up to the actual amount spent on major remediation) from the Settlement Fund, after payment of the $300.00 level claims.
4. WHAT IS A BAR DATE?
The bar date is the date set by the Court as the date by which all persons and entities who have claims must file proofs of claim or forever be barred from asserting any such claims against the Debtors.
Claims in this case were required to be filed by December 31,2009.
5. IF I LOOK IN MY ATTIC AND SEE WHAT I THINK IS ZAI, SHOULD I SEND IN A SAMPLE?
No. You are not required to send in samples of ZAI.
WARNING: PLEASE NOTE THAT ZAI CAN BE DANGEROUS IF DISTURBED. IF YOU ARE NOT CERTAIN IF YOU HAVE ZAI IN YOUR HOME, YOU SHOULD SERIOUSLY CONSIDER RETAINING AN EXPERT TO CARRY-OUT AN INSPECTION. YOU SHOULD BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO DISTURB THE ZAI OR OTHERWISE EXPOSE YOURSELF OR OTHERS TO IT.
6. WHAT INFORMATION IS REQUIRED FOR ME TO PROVE A CLAIM AND BE ENTITLED TO COMPENSATION?
You need to provide information or documentation to Collectiva to prove your claim. The required information includes:
1. an invoice/receipt from the original installation of ZAI;
2. a certificate of analysis of the insulation identifying the existence of ZAI;
3. a photograph of a label from a bag of ZAI in your attic, or a photograph of the ZAI in your attic;
4. an invoice or report indicating that ZAI has been removed from your property; or,
5. an energy efficiency evaluation report or home inspection report referencing the presence of ZAI at your property.
For individuals who are unable to submit one or more items of documentation referenced above, Collectiva will accept a sworn affidavit from the property owner indicating presence of ZAI.
7. HOW DO I MAKE A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM?
All Canadian ZAI personal injury claims will be channelled to a U.S. Asbestos Trust that will be set-up pursuant to the Debtor’s Plan of Reorganization. The trust provisions relating to the U.S. Asbestos Trust will detail the manner in which claims must be made, what has to be proven, etc.
8. DO I NEED A LAWYER?
You may choose to retain a lawyer, however, you are not required to do so in order to file a claim. If you do retain a lawyer on your own, you will be responsible for that cost.
You can also contact the Claims Administrator, Collectiva, which is responsible for administration of the settlement. Contact information is listed below.
9. HOW DO I OBTAIN FURTHER INFORMATION?
Further information is available from the Claims Administrator as set-out below:
Collectiva Class Action Services Inc./Services En Recour Collectifs Inc.
533, rue Ontario Est, bureau 206
Telephone: (514) 287-1000 ext. 227
Toll Free: 1-800-287-8587