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MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR ASBESTOS SETTLEMENT ANNOUNCED LEGAL BREAKTHROUGH ENDS 5-YEAR GRIDLOCK IN FIBREBOARD CASE

 TYLER, Texas, Aug. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- A Federal Court-appointed negotiating committee announced Friday the terms of a multi-billion dollar settlement with the Fibreboard Corporation (AMEX: FBD) and its insurers of future personal injury asbestos claims which may be filed against Fibreboard in the coming years.
 At the Aug. 27, 1993 hearing, Joseph Rice of the law firm of Ness, Motley, Loadholt, Richardson & Poole announced the settlement of over one and a half billion dollars with the creation of a settlement mechanism to evaluate and pay all claims. Under the terms of this settlement, Continental Casualty Company (CNA) and Pacific Indemnity, insurers of Fibreboard, would settle a 15-year-old insurance dispute with Fibreboard in the California state courts. Not only would the future claims be settled, but over two billion dollars would be available to either pay cases resolved under previous agreements entered by Fibreboard or to resolve the 45,000 remaining unsettled cases presently pending in U.S. Courts. The details of the future claims settlement will be presented to the Court in a class action suit to be filed in the Eastern District of Texas.
 On Aug. 11, 1993, Chief Justice Robert Parker of the United States District Court, Eastern District of Texas, approved a settlement with Fibreboard and its insurers of 38,000 pending asbestos personal injury claims represented by the Charleston, South Carolina law firm of Ness Motley. After hearing from the attorneys on the present case settlements, Judge Parker created a committee of five attorneys to represent future asbestos claimants to explore the feasibility of a global settlement with Fibreboard, CNA and Pacific Indemnity.
 Joseph Rice and Joseph Cox of Ness Motley were the chief negotiators for the claimants.
 Fibreboard is a California-based company that manufactured a limited line of asbestos containing insulation prior to 1972. It announced over four years ago a bleak financial picture with very limited assets and no insurance for claims arising from exposure after 1959. For the past four to five years, the asbestos claimants have been resolving claims with Fibreboard by taking an assignment from Fibreboard of its claim against its insurers. Without the successful resolution of the California insurance case, not only would Fibreboard be bankrupt, but all of the current settlements would go in default.
 The California insurance dispute has been on appeal for several years. The Texas Court and parties agreed to settle this dispute involving the asbestos claimants, Fibreboard and its co-insurers of sums in excess of three billion dollars in lieu of risk of reversal by the Court in California. A reversal would force Fibreboard into bankruptcy. Fibreboard is evaluated, absent asbestos liabilities, at less than 200 million dollars in total value.
 "While some will argue the settlement of future personal injury claims before they manifest is not in the best interest of the claimants or the legal system, the Court and negotiating committee felt that assuring recovery of substantial sums by a large number of future claimants was the reasonable approach in these circumstances," Rice said.
 "Although the settlement will assure payment to over 200,000 future claims, there is some risk that more claims will exist. But with the reasonable cooperation of attorneys representing the individual claimants and prudent management of these funds, the settlement vehicle should be active for over 40 years and pay all claimants fairly at a vast reduction in the transaction cost," Cox said.
 The other members of the court appointed negotiating team were: Steve Kazan of Kazan, McClain, Edises and Simon in Oakland, Harry Wartnick of Cartwright in San Francisco, Bob Sweeney, and Elihu Inselbuck of Caplin and Drysdale in New York, was of counsel to the negotiating committee.
 -0- 8/30/93
 /CONTACT: Joseph Rice, or Joseph Cox, 803-577-6747/
 (FBD)


CO: Fibreboard Corporation; Ness, Motley, Loadholt, Richardson & Poole;
 Continental Casualty Company; Pacific Indemnity ST: Texas IN: SU:


LD -- NY096 -- 7277 08/30/93 19:15 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 30, 1993
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