IR » Topics » Asbestos Litigation

This excerpt taken from the IR 8-K filed Aug 11, 2008.

Asbestos Litigation

Over the years, the Company has been named as a defendant in numerous lawsuits alleging various asbestos-related personal injury claims arising primarily from its historical sales of boilers and railroad brake shoes.

In these asbestos-related lawsuits, the Company is usually named as one of a large group of defendants. Many of these lawsuits involve multiple claimants, do not specifically identify the injury or disease for which damages are sought and/or do not allege a connection between any Company product and a claimed injury or disease. As a result, numerous lawsuits have been placed, and may remain on, inactive or deferred dockets, which some jurisdictions have established.

Asbestos Claims Activity

From receipt of the first asbestos claim more than twenty years ago through March 31, 2008, the Company has resolved 62,226 claims by settlement or dismissal. The Company and its insurance carriers have paid settlements of approximately $114.5 million, which represents an average payment per resolved claim of $1,839. The average payment per claim resolved during the three months ended March 31, 2008 and the year ended December 31, 2007 was $9,891 and $8,586, respectively.

The table below provides additional information regarding asbestos-related claims filed against the Company, reflecting updated information for all periods.

 

     Three months ended
March 31, 2008
    Year ended
2007
    Cumulative
Total
 

Open Claims—January 1,

   104,333     104,104     N/A  

New claims filed

   838     3,057     174,497  

Claims settled

   (176 )   (754 )   (10,933 )

Claims dismissed

   (353 )   (2,074 )   (51,293 )

Inactive claims

   —       —       (7,629 )
              

Open Claims—March 31,

   104,642       N/A  
          

Open Claims—December 31,

     104,333     N/A  
          

Because claims are frequently filed and settled in large groups, the amount and timing of settlements, as well as the number of open claims, can fluctuate significantly from period to period.

The Company’s total accrual for asbestos-related liabilities at March 31, 2008 and December 31, 2007 is $635.7 million and $641.2 million, respectively. The decrease of $5.5 million during the first three months of 2008 was due primarily to claims payments made by the Company during the quarter.

Asbestos Insurance Recovery

The Company is in litigation against certain carriers whose policies it believes provide coverage for asbestos claims. The insurance carriers named in this suit are challenging the Company’s right to recovery. The Company filed the action in April 1999 in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Middlesex County, against various primary and lower layer excess insurance carriers, seeking coverage for environmental claims (the “NJ Litigation”). The NJ Litigation was later expanded to also seek coverage for asbestos related liabilities from twenty-one primary and lower layer excess carriers and underwriting syndicates. On September 19, 2005, the court granted the Company’s motion to add 16 additional insurers and 117 new insurance policies to the NJ Litigation. The court also required the

 

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parties to submit all contested matters to mediation. The Company engaged in its first mediation session with the NJ Litigation defendants on January 18, 2006 and has engaged in active discussions since that time. During the mediation, the parties agreed to extensions of discovery deadlines and stays of discovery except for discovery necessary to facilitate the mediation process. The continued stay of discovery was confirmed by agreement at the most recent status conference with the court and mediator, which took place on November 26, 2007.

With the addition of the parties and policies referred to above, the NJ Litigation would resolve the coverage issues with respect to approximately 94 percent of the recorded receivable. The remaining six percent of the recorded receivable relates to policies for which the Company has not sought resolution of coverage because such policies were issued by parties whose coverage obligations are triggered at higher excess layers that are not expected to be reached in the near future. At March 31, 2008, 92 percent of the insurance recovery receivables is with carriers rated A or better by AM Best. This percentage excludes amounts that have been settled but not yet collected.

The Company estimates and records a receivable for amounts recoverable from its insurance carriers for asbestos claims that have been settled and paid, the reimbursable portion of incurred legal expenses, and the probable reimbursements relating to its estimated liability for pending and future claims. Please see Note 15 to the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2007 for a discussion of the methodology used by the Company to calculate the receivable and the factors considered by the Company when concluding that its insurance receivable including amounts in litigation is probable of recovery.

The total asbestos receivable is $342.2 million and $342.9 million at March 31, 2008 and December 31, 2007, respectively. The receivable decreased in the first quarter of 2008 primarily as a result of cash payments received from insurance companies, partially offset by the recoverable portion of incurred legal expenses.

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