Bestwall filed for Chapter 11 protection with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Western District of North Carolina, case number 17-31795. The Company, which holds the equity of industrial plaster business GP Industrial Plasters, is represented by Gregory M. Gordon of Jones Day. GP Industrial Plasters is not included in the Chapter 11 filing. Bestwall is an affiliate of Georgia-Pacific that did not file for bankruptcy. Bestwall was created in an internal corporate restructuring and now holds the asbestos liabilities.
According to a corporate release, the filing was initiated to “equitably and permanently resolve all its current and future asbestos claims.” Bestwall also announced its intentions to seek Court authority to establish a trust under Section 524(g) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code to ensure that all individuals with current and future asbestos claims are treated fairly.
Tyler Woolson, S.V.P. and C.F.O. of Georgia-Pacific, comments, “Bestwall’s Chapter 11 filing is an important and necessary step toward an efficient and permanent resolution of the asbestos litigation Bestwall and its predecessor have been facing, and Bestwall would have continued to face, for decades. After nearly 40 years of ongoing, and more recently escalating, litigation, we believe that establishing a trust through this specialized provision of the Bankruptcy Code is the only option that will allow Bestwall to permanently and fully resolve its asbestos claims while providing a resolution that fairly and equitably treats all individuals with current and future claims.”
A corporate release further explains that Bestwall’s asbestos liabilities relate primarily to joint systems products manufactured by Bestwall Gypsum Company, a company acquired by Georgia-Pacific in 1965. The former Bestwall Gypsum entity manufactured joint compounds containing small amounts of chrysotile asbestos; the manufacture of these asbestos-containing products ceased in 1977. Bestwall and its predecessor have been named as a defendant in approximately 70-80% of all mesothelioma cases filed in the U.S. each year and have spent approximately $2.9 billion defending and resolving over 430,000 asbestos personal injury lawsuits during the nearly 40-year span of the litigation.
The Company notes, “Bestwall believes that the substantial settlement amounts that have been paid are, at least in part, the product of the same litigation abuses, including suppression of alternative exposure evidence, that were exposed in the recent Garlock bankruptcy case. Bestwall had more than 62,000 asbestos claims pending against it at the time of the bankruptcy filing, and the litigation was projected to continue at least through 2050.”
Bestwall’s Chapter 11 petition indicates assets greater than $500 million.
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