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 WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- A proposal made by the Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust to partially lift a stay on claims payments was approved yesterday by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Almost 12,000 claimants with judgments or settlements reached prior to Nov. 19, 1990 are eligible under the proposal to receive between 60 percent and 80 percent of their claim value, totaling approximately $349 million. The discounted payment plan was appealed by attorneys representing unsettled claimants. However, the proposal provides up to an additional $137 million to be made available for future settlements. The trust presently has more than $700 million in liquid assets, plus non-liquid equity and debt holdings of the Manville Corp. valued in excess of $1 billion.
 In addition to the approved discounted payments, and in an effort to end some of the continuing delay in claims payment, the trust has also proposed in a motion filed in federal court today to expand the definition of Exigent Health claims (which are already exempt from the payment stay) to include all living claimants who currently suffer from an asbestos-related cancer. The trust presently has approximately 3,800 claimants who might qualify for payment under the expanded definition of Exigent Health, and projects that approximately 2,000 additional living cancer claims may be filed during 1994.
 For over three and one-half years the trust has been prevented from making payments to any but the most severely injured claimants (Exigent Health claims) or those in extreme financial hardship, resulting in a backlog of more than 180,000 unsettled claims. The stay on payments was ordered in July 1990 in conjunction with a class action lawsuit filed in November of that year to restructure the distribution of the trust's assets to its hundreds of thousands of present and future claimants.
 "The trust has monetized over $550 million of its non-liquid assets during the past two years, and the trustees would like to see the approximately $700 million in cash used for its intended purpose -- payments to claimants who have been waiting years for compensation for their injuries," said Robert Falise, managing trustee and chairman of the trust's board. "The proposal to settle and pay beneficiaries presently suffering from asbestos-related cancer is another step in a continuing effort to fulfill the trust's purposes. In addition to the Exigent Health proposal, and now that the discounted payment issue has finally been resolved, we hope circumstances will allow us to also move quickly to propose an additional modification of the stay in order to make partial payments to claimants in first-in first-out order. The trustees believe that it is unconscionable to continue to deny even partial relief to these claimants when such relief will not jeopardize the position of other trust beneficiaries."
 The trust has redesigned its organizational structure and computer systems to expedite claim review and payment, and recently moved its offices to suburban Virginia in order to further reduce operating costs. Executive Director Patricia G. Houser stated: "We will provide immediate notice on which claims we believe presently qualify for any approved expanded definition of exigent health status to give claimants an opportunity to update their files, then make offers in accordance with the criteria and Schedule of Values agreed to by the class representatives and described in the present draft of a new Trust Distribution Process. We expect to make offers on all these claims immediately after the deadline for updating the files. Should further expansion of our ability to pay claims be approved, the trust has the capacity to make offers on approximately 10,000 claims a month."
 -0- 1/12/94
 /CONTACT: Patricia G. Houser, of the Manville Trust, 703-204-9300/

CO: Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust ST: District of Columbia IN: HEA SU:

KD-KW -- DC024 -- 1560 01/12/94 17:21 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 12, 1994
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