Humbled But Raring to Go

Out of bankruptcy, Manville pays its dues to asbestos victims

When the Manville company entered bankruptcy in 1982, it was facing one of the worst product-liability disasters in history. Some 16,500 personal-injury lawsuits had been filed by industrial workers who claimed that they had developed lung cancer and other pulmonary diseases as a result of inhaling Manville-produced asbestos fibers. More than 50,000 other alleged victims were preparing to sue. Juries had already given damage awards of $1 million to several individuals, so the company's potential liability was overwhelming. Even if the company were liquidated, the anticipated claims could not be paid.

Critics said that Manville was using Chapter 11 to duck...

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