GENERAL CHEMICAL SETTLES MORE THAN 60,000 CLAIMS
Most claims will be paid out of a fund of $92.8 million which will be established for the tens of thousands of registered claimants who are plaintiffs in the litigation. Individual payments will be based on a matrix of factors to be approved by a Court-appointed Special Master. Claimants who can prove more serious injuries or special circumstances may receive additional compensation through special claims procedures. Provision has also been made for payments to persons who have not filed complaints but who satisfy appropriate criteria. A separate fund has been designated to settle punitive damage claims, although General Chemical disputes that punitive damages are warranted. In all, General Chemical, supported by its insurance carriers, has agreed to make available up to $180 million to implement the agreement. Unused portions of the total available amount will be retained by General Chemical's insurers and may be used for future claims and any other contingencies not resolved by the settlement.
The structure of the settlement agreement was worked out in negotiations between Jackson, Tufts, Cole & Black, counsel for General Chemical, and attorneys representing the overwhelming majority of claimants. The discussions were conducted under the supervision of Judge Coleman Fannin, a Court-appointed settlement master.
"General Chemical has taken a responsible approach to this accident from the beginning," said Bart Jackson of Jackson, Tufts, Cole & Black. "Affected people were encouraged to visit health facilities and General Chemical voluntarily paid the bills. The company was commended for its cooperation with more than a dozen regulatory agencies. A thorough internal investigation was publicly disclosed and precautions were taken to avoid a recurrence. This claims settlement structure is a further extension of this responsible corporate philosophy."
Mr. Jackson also emphasized that the lead regulatory agency investigating the accident determined that there was no evidence of intentional misconduct and no evidence the company disregarded public health and safety.
Attorneys representing the overwhelming majority of claimants have endorsed the settlement. A hearing for preliminary Court approval is scheduled before Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Richard L. Patsey on July 14, 1995.
/CONTACT: Bartlett A. Jackson, Michael J. Baker or Debra S. Belaga of Jackson, Tufts, Cole & Black, 415-433-1950, Counsel for General Chemical and Defense Liaison Counsel/
CO: Jackson, Tufts, Cole & Black; General Chemical ST: California IN: CHM SU:
SM-LW -- SF017 -- 7862 06/20/95 19:22 EDT