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September 22, 2018

Fined for failing to conduct asbestos check

Fined for failing to conduct asbestos check

ELESHA EDMONDS

Last updated 13:26, December 12 2014

An Auckland renovation company manager has been fined $40,000 after he failed to test ceilings at a worksite for asbestos. 

Peter Page, the manager of Apartment Renovation Company, was sentenced today at Auckland District Court on charges laid by WorkSafe of not taking all practical steps to test a substance for asbestos. 

Shane Harris, a handyman employed by the company, raised concern after noticing Page did not test for asbestos before they began work on 10 units at a site in the Auckland suburb of Sandringham. 

Page told Harris he had tested the ceiling and had found there was no asbestos, but when Harris took his own sample it tested positive for the presence of asbestos. 

As a result of Page’s actions, up to 15 contractors were potentially exposed to asbestos over three months. 

Asbestos dust can cause breathing difficulties or even lung cancer if it is inhaled.

Page claimed he thought the textured ceilings were asbestos-free, as they did not have sparkling material visible to the eye.

However Brett Murray, general manager of High Hazards and Specialist Services, said it was a recommended practice to test for asbestos.

“Asbestos is often mixed with other material so it is virtually impossible to identify by eye,” he said. 

“The only way to be certain that materials contain asbestos is to have them tested.” 


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Page was fined $40,000 under the Health and Safety in Employment Act and Health and Safety in Employment Regulations. 


– Stuff

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Fined for failing to conduct asbestos check

Fletcher defends Christchurch quake repair programme

Management problems which potentially exposed workers to asbestos early in the Christchurch rebuild may also have left homeowners open to bad repair work, a report says.

A WorkSafe New Zealand investigation into the mismanagement of asbestos in Canterbury was released publicly for the first time yesterday after an Official Information Act request from 3 News.

The report, which was completed in October, found serious deficiencies in the way the Earthquake Commission (EQC) and Fletcher EQR handled asbestos repairs, with workers unaware of the risk and potentially exposed to low levels of the dangerous substance during 2011 and 2012.

The probe focused on the Canterbury Home Repair Programme (CHRP), an EQC initiative to repair thousands of homes in Christchurch with quake damage claims between $15,000 to $100,000.

Investigators found contractors rarely discussed or tested for asbestos prior to June 2012, and may have carried out work on houses with dangerous materials without testing the air.

A series of inspections also found mismatches between work records provided by Fletcher and the actual repairs visible in a number of homes, sparking wider concerns about the rebuild.

The report says asbestos management systems failed in the early stages of the rebuild and asks whether the failures continued across repair work more widely.

“It was noted a good quality management system should have detected mismatches between [Fletcher’s] records and repairs apparent on inspection,” the report reads.

“This suggests poor performance may have extended beyond asbestos management to quality management of the repairs.”

The report doesn’t detail the discrepancies and WorkSafe NZ wouldn’t elaborate yesterday, but a Fletcher spokesperson described the observation as a “one-off comment”.

“We would not agree with it,” he said. “It’s a comment that suddenly leaps out of being a report about asbestos management and lands in being a report about quality management.”

The spokesperson, who did not want to be named, said there were a “range of things” which could explain the inconsistencies as repair work sometimes deviates from the paper, where practical.

“It doesn’t tell you anything about quality because so many things changed with many [of the] repairs,” he said. “[For some people] a heck of a lot changed between the earthquakes, the initial inspection and the commencement of repairs.

“You’re asking me if this is an endemic problem, and if this suggests a widescale quality problem, and my answer is no. It’s a whole range of things, and [the evidence] doesn’t actually suggest that.”

Fletcher admitted some repairs wouldn’t be up to scratch, but that thousands of homes had been repaired since 2010 and some discontent was inevitable.

“Could you do 70-odd thousand home repairs using the existing contractor force and workforce without any quality problems? It’s a rhetorical question, but we both know what the answer is.”

Satisfaction surveys carried out by EQC since mid-2013 show around 80 to 85 percent of homeowners are happy with their repairs, the spokesperson said.

“My understanding of the historical satisfaction with home renovation and repair type activities is in general it’s quite a bit lower than that.

“Sometimes it’s not about the repairs, it’s the difference between people’s expectations and what they’re entitled to and all sorts of things like that.”

Contractors dumped hazardous waste

WorkSafe NZ also found waste from repairs may have been taken to landfills which were not approved to handle asbestos.

Investigators spoke to a number of contractors and supervisors from 35 “homes of interest”‘ during the probe and discovered many were unfamiliar with Fletcher’s policies on asbestos.

Overall they found site safety plans were seen as a “mere formality” by contractors during the early years of the CHRP, with understanding about the need for asbestos testing varying significantly.

Testing was not seen as mandatory until June 2012 and waste from repairs may have been taken to unapproved dumps.

WorkSafe NZ said it was not possible to know how much had been dumped as the material was not identified at the time.

“While all asbestos waste should be disposed of at an approved refuse site, dump operators will be well aware of the risks associated with the unapproved disposal of hazardous materials,” a spokesperson said.

“The identification and management of asbestos, which would include disposal of waste, has improved over the course of the Canterbury Home Repair Programme.”

Many contractors and supervisors refused to be interviewed for the report, with only 60 percent of lead contractors and 46 percent of Fletcher’s contract supervisors participating.

Failings, but no prosecution

Overall, investigators found a number of serious failings but decided not to prosecute.

The report stresses that the errors happened during the tumultuous activity which followed the Christchurch quakes and says the CHRP improved its systems over time.

“Its shortcomings may be attributable in part to the unprecedented nature of the CHRP, which required systems to be developed on the fly,” it reads.

“The CHRP as time proceeded appears to have contributed to the substantial rise in awareness of asbestos risks within the Canterbury rebuild.”

The most significant failings occurred in 2011 and 2012, with improvements from June 2012.

A sample of 35 home repairs, taken between May 2011 and May 2013, found contractors regularly failed to complete documentation and work was often allowed to proceed without a safety plan.

Only 12 of the sampled contractors filed a report and all failed to specify how the work would be safely carried out.

Fletcher failed to catch the inconsistences in almost all of the reports, and contractors were confused about their responsibilities. Some blamed Fletcher for failing to provide policy and accused of the company of avoiding tests due to cost, which the company denies.

Investigators later identified 35 “homes of interest” but were only able to inspect 10, and found six were home to asbestos-containing material, which contractors had failed to identify.

Only one contained traces of asbestos, likely left behind by a poor clean-up.

Health risk ‘minimal’

The report cites a number of experts who believe the risk to public health is minimal, despite the failings outlined by investigators.

An independent group, Noel Arnold and Associates, was commissioned to consider the risks of asbestos in the CHRP and found individual exposures were well below the workplace exposure standards – an average concentration of one fibre per millimetre of air every four hours.

Its work examined the risks of dry scraping a stippled ceiling, which accounts for around 80 percent of asbestos repairs in the CHRP. Other dangerous work, including plaster repair, is believed to pose a smaller risk.

“They modelled the risks using a worst-case scenario of exposure and time and did not reach a level where a single worker can be expected to develop mesothelioma or lung cancer,” the report reads.

“Testing results… showed that the levels of airborne asbestos was negligible, and that with one exception there was no asbestos residue in the homes.”

The report found the risk to homeowners was extremely small but also highlighted that the “range of individual susceptibility to hazardous and toxic substances is wide”, saying it is possible for some people to experience discomfort or illness below the exposure standards.

3 News

Original post: 

Fletcher defends Christchurch quake repair programme

Swiss billionaire Schmidheiny Wins Asbestos Court Battle

Billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny was acquitted this week of complicity in 3,000 deaths related to the use of asbestos in factories formerly part of his chemicals empire, Eternit. Italy’s supreme court overturned a ruling which sentenced the Swiss entrepreneur to 18 years in prison stating the evidence in the case was out of date.

Schmidheiny had been fighting the case which wound its way through the Italian court system for years. In 2012, he was jailed in absentia for 16 years, a sentence that was raised by an appeals court to 18 years in 2013. Throughout the case, Schmidheiny who avoids the limelight, denied the charges stating once the perils of asbestos were known, he sold out of the business and was not running the factory during the period claimed in the deaths.

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“My group was heading toward bankruptcy as a consequence of the combined effects of asbestos-related problems and a major slump in construction markets. Thus I built my group virtually from scratch,” he wrote to Forbes in 2009 for a feature story.

Shmidheiny inherited the Eternit Group when he was 37 as the fourth generation of a Swiss industrial dynasty. Before he took full control, he had worked around the globe for his family’s Eternit Group, which manufactured a line of construction products that had begun in 1903 with asbestos-reinforced cement. At age 29, after toying with the idea to become a missionary, studying law and travelling abroad, he was called back to headquarters. That is when he began to face the company’s asbestos concerns. Schmidheiny had filters installed at Eternit factories to reduce dust in the air, beefed up employee training and began to move the company away from asbestos-based products. He notes that he himself was exposed to the mineral while working in his early 20s hauling sacks as a shift foreman at Eternit in Brazil. When Schmidheiny took full control of the company, he sold off most asbestos operations and diversified into other ventures, including the Latin American investment holding company, GrupoNueva, and the then ailing watch firm Swatch. (He sold off his Swatch shares after it recovered.)

In 2003 Schmidheiny focused more on his burgeoning philanthropic efforts. He placed $1 billion in business assets, including GrupoNueva, into a charitable trust, which its profits annually to help entrepreneurs across both Central and South America. In a 2012 interview with Forbes he said, “In keeping with the family tradition, my charitable activities first began in Switzerland where we supported – and continue to support – a broad range of activities e.g. in the field of conservation of the cultural heritage, protecting women’s and children’s rights, protection of the environment, to name just a few. In 1992 I had an experience as the founder of the Business Council for Sustainable Development around the UN conference of Rio that profoundly changed my outlook on life. Thus, I greatly expanded my philanthropic endeavors and put a major emphasis on promoting sustainable forms of development in Latin America.”

This article:  

Swiss billionaire Schmidheiny Wins Asbestos Court Battle

If You Have Been Injured by Asbestos, Please Read this Notice of Voting Rights.

WILMINGTON, Del. , Oct. 27, 2014 /CNW/ — The following statement is being issued regarding the In re Specialty Products Holding Corp. matter (Case No. 10-11780 (PJW) (Bankr. D. Del. 2010).

A Joint Plan of Reorganization (“Plan”) has been filed to reorganize Specialty Products Holding Corp. (formerly known as RPM, Inc.), Bondex International, Inc., Republic Powdered Metals, Inc., and NMBFiL, Inc. (formerly known as Bondo Corporation) (collectively, “Debtors”) in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware (“Bankruptcy Court”). 

Persons or entities with asbestos related personal injury claims against any of the Debtors may vote to accept or reject the Plan by December 2 , 2014. 

A detailed document describing the Plan, called the Disclosure Statement, was approved by the Bankruptcy Court on October 20 , 2014.  The Disclosure Statement, a copy of the Plan itself and voting materials have been sent to known holders of asbestos related personal injury claims against the Debtors or to their lawyers. 

Important Plan Provisions Regarding Asbestos Related Claims

The Plan proposes establishing a trust to resolve all asbestos personal injury claims against the Debtors.  Persons and entities with asbestos personal injury or related claims will be forever barred from asserting their claims against the Debtors or other parties specified in the Plan. If the Plan is approved by the Court, all current and future holders of asbestos personal injury claims against the Debtors can request and receive money only from the trust.  You should read the Plan and Disclosure Statement carefully for details about how the Plan, if approved, will affect your rights.

Voting Procedures

The Bankruptcy Court has issued an order describing how to vote on the Plan and the Disclosure Statement contains information that will help you decide how to vote.  Your legal rights will be affected if the Plan is approved.  For a vote to be counted, a ballot must be received at the address indicated on the ballot form by 5:00 p.m., Eastern time , on December 2, 2014 .

Under the procedures approved by the Bankruptcy Court, lawyers for holders of asbestos claims may vote on the Plan on behalf of their clients, if authorized by the client.  If you are unsure whether your lawyer is authorized to vote on your behalf, please contact your lawyer.

How to Obtain Documents

Copies of the Disclosure Statement, which includes the Plan, the voting materials, and the notice of the hearing to consider confirmation of the Plan may be obtained by visiting the following websites:  www.deb.uscourts.gov and www.loganandco.com.  You may also obtain copies of these documents by sending a request, in writing, to Logan & Company, Inc., 546 Valley Road, Upper Montclair, NJ 07043 (Attn:SPHC Voting Department) or by calling 1-866-692-2119.

Confirmation Hearing

A hearing to consider confirmation of the Plan has been scheduled for December 10, 2014 at 3:30 pm ET in Courtroom 4B at the United States District Court for the District of Delaware , J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building, located at 844 North King Street, 4th Floor, Wilmington, Delaware 19801. You may attend the Hearing but are not required to do so.

Objecting to the Plan

If you want to object to the Plan, you must file and serve a written objection on or before 5:00 p.m. ET , on December 2, 2014 .  All objections must comply with the requirements in the notice of the Confirmation Hearing.

For more information and to obtain a copy of the Plan, Disclosure Statement and Voting Materials,

Visit:  www.deb.uscourts.gov OR www.loganandco.com.

Write: Logan & Company, Inc., 546 Valley Road,

Upper Montclair, NJ 07043

(Attn:SPHC Voting Department)

Call:  1-866-692-2119

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/if-you-have-been-injured-by-asbestos-please-read-this-notice-of-voting-rights-531684759.html

SOURCE GCG

Contact:

Dan Prieto, Jones Day, 1.214.969.4515

View this article:  

If You Have Been Injured by Asbestos, Please Read this Notice of Voting Rights.

Research and Markets: European Asbestos Market Report 2014-2020

DUBLIN–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/zxq7vv/eu_asbestos) has announced the addition of the “EU: Asbestos – Market Report. Analysis and Forecast to 2020” report to their offering.

The report provides an in-depth analysis of the EU Market of Asbestos. It presents the latest data of the market size and volume, domestic production, exports and imports, price dynamics and turnover in the industry. The report shows the sales data, allowing you to identify the key drivers and restraints. You can find here a strategic analysis of key factors influencing the market. Forecasts illustrate how the market will be transformed in the medium term. Profiles of the leading companies and brands are also included.

Why buy this report?

  • Get the full picture of the market
  • Assess future market prospects
  • Identify Key success factors on the market
  • Adjust your marketing strategy

Key Topics Covered:

1. Introduction

2. Executive Summary

3. Market Overview

4. Domestic Production

5. Imports

6. Exports

7. Prices

8. Turnover And Sales In Industry

9. Business Environment Overview

10. Company Profiles

For more information visit http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/zxq7vv/eu_asbestos

Contact:

Research and Markets

Laura Wood, Senior Manager


press@researchandmarkets.com

For E.S.T Office Hours Call 1-917-300-0470

For U.S./CAN Toll Free Call 1-800-526-8630

For GMT Office Hours Call +353-1-416-8900

U.S. Fax: 646-607-1907

Fax (outside U.S.): +353-1-481-1716

Sector:

Process and Materials

Continue at source:

Research and Markets: European Asbestos Market Report 2014-2020

Claim for £300k over asbestos death is thrown out

THE family of a company boss who blamed his death from asbestos-related cancer on his work at Marks & Spencer in York have had their hopes of £300,000 compensation dashed by a top judge.

John Thorman Heward, who was managing director of Newcastle-based shopfitters, D.H Allan & Sons Ltd, was 61 when he died in 2009 from mesothelioma, an agonising cancer of the lining of the lungs which is invariably fatal.

Mr Heward, who started working for D.H Allan at the age of 16 before rising through the ranks, blamed his illness on work he carried out for Marks & Spencer Plc between 1967 and 1984.

He was exposed to asbestos dust and fibres whilst carrying out joinery work at a store in York in 1967 and, in later years, whilst modernizing 13 M&S stores across the North East..

Although Mr Heward died years before his case came to court, he made detailed statements which were used during the hearing at London’s High Court.

His wife, Catherine, did not long survive him and the case was pursued by the executors of her estate on behalf of surviving heirs.

Mr Heward had described himself as ‘suit and tie man’ who was unaware of the risks posed by asbestos and who did not start to wear protective clothing until 1984.

The family’s barrister, David Allan QC, told Judge David Pittaway QC that exposure to dust from asbestos tiles and pipe lagging whilst carrying out joinery work and inspecting ceilings in M&S stores was to blame for his “painful and distressing terminal illness”.

The barrister pointed to one alleged incident of exposure in particular, saying that, in 1967, Mr Heward was working beneath an asbestos ceiling which was being fitted at the York branch and quantities of asbestos dust were “falling directly on him.”

The QC added that, although D.H Allan did not work exclusively for M&S, 80% of its work was based at the company’s stores.

The court heard that, during the 1960’s and 1970’s, M&S stores underwent modernization, including having suspended ceilings made of Asbestelux tiles fitted.

After 1984, M&S put in place protocols to protect workers from asbestos, but lawyers argued that Mr Heward’s exposure up to that point was already enough to hand him a death sentence decades later.

Today Judge Pittaway said that asbestos had at the time been “used extensively” in M&S stores, particularly in ceiling tiles.

He added: “I am satisfied that Mr Heward contracted mesothelioma whilst he was carrying out work for D.H Allan at M&S stores sometime between 1967 and 1984”

However, dismissing the compensation claim, the judge said M&S had employed specialist contractors to carry out the work at the York store.

By the standards of the time, he ruled, it was “not reasonably foreseeable” that the presence of asbestos would pose a threat to the health of others working there.

Knowledge of the asbestos hazard was still developing in the 1960s and 1970s, and the level of Mr Heward’s exposure when inspecting and surveying ceiling voids would have been lower than hygiene or control limits in force at the time.

The judge concluded: “It follows that, in my view, the claim against M&S fails on both the exposure to asbestos that the deceased experienced in the York store in 1967, and in stores subsequently, whilist inspecting store premises”

Link – 

Claim for £300k over asbestos death is thrown out

U.S. court revives asbestos fraud case against BASF

FRANKFURT, Sept 5 (Reuters) – BASF, the world’s largest chemicals maker by sales, said it was considering appealing the revival of a U.S. fraud case against it by representatives of alleged asbestos victims.

A U.S. appeals court ruled this week that BASF and its former law firm had a case to answer in a class action alleging they conspired to prevent thousands of asbestos-injury victims from obtaining justice by destroying or hiding evidence.

The New Jersey District Court had dismissed the case but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit rejected parts of that ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings.

BASF said in a statement emailed to Reuters on Friday: “The remaining claims concern asbestos injury suits brought decades ago against Engelhard, a company BASF acquired in 2006, relating to Engelhard’s talc mining operations that ended in 1983.”

“BASF is evaluating its options to obtain further review of the Court of Appeals’ decision on this point.”

The plaintiffs allege that BASF and Engelhard Corp concealed evidence that its talc products contained disease-causing asbestos and fabricated other evidence used in court by its law firm, Cahill Gordon and Reindel LLP.

The products were used in wall boards, dusting agents and children’s balloons.

The alleged scheme to conceal the evidence and dismiss or settle court cases collapsed a few years ago when a former research chemist for Engelhard testified in a New Jersey case that he had discovered asbestos in Engelhard’s talc and been instructed by the company to turn over all related records.

The district court had ruled that BASF and Cahill were not liable for any false statements they may have made because of New Jersey’s litigation privilege, which is designed to protect lawyers from defamation actions and further openness in court.

The appeal court rejected that argument. “New Jersey’s Supreme Court has never recognised the litigation privilege to immunize systematic fraud, let alone fraud calculated to thwart the judicial process,” it said in its ruling.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan and Frank Siebelt; editing by Susan Thomas)

Continue at source: 

U.S. court revives asbestos fraud case against BASF

Winnipeg family left homeless after botched asbestos job

A Winnipeg family is homeless after a botched asbestos remediation in their Point Douglas home. 

The company that did the remediation, Workman Industries, has been issued a cease and desist order to stop using the logo of a national certification body on its website. 

“There was open bags of asbestos. There was an air filtration machine running but with the hose running out to nowhere basically,” said Jon Cameron, the homeowners’ son.  “The window was not open, so it was more like for show.”

The Point Douglas home on Austin Street has been owned by Cameron’s parents, Rafaelita and Victor Cameron, for 37 years.  They live there along with their daughter, Cherielyn Yabas, her husband and their one month old daughter, Saffiya. 

“[I’m] scared for all of us, especially for her,” said Cerielyn, looking down at her infant daughter. “She’s so young.”

Rafaelita Cameron had hired Sarte Heating and Cooling to replace the old boiler system with a new high efficiency furnace, but the company could not do the installation until the old boiler, which was covered in asbestos, was removed. 

So Sarte arranged for Workman Industries to go to the Point Douglas home on Aug. 7 to do the remediation. 

Undisturbed asbestos-containing materials generally don’t pose a health risk, according to Health Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

It’s only when the asbestos is disturbed, and the dust is emitted into the air that it poses a risk to human health, the agencies say.  In significant quantities, asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis and lung cancer.

“I never talked to [Workman] before [the work started],” said Rafaelita Cameron.

Family notices ‘red flags’

When the crew arrived, Rafaelita and her daughter noticed red flags. 

They said the workers were not wearing protective equipment or masks.

Rafaelita, Yabas and her one-month-old daughter, Saffiya, were all in and out of the home as they were not instructed to stay away. 

They eventually realized there were no barriers created to separate the basement job site from the remainder of the home.  Rafaelita said she confronted one of the workers.

“I said ‘Where’s the barrier? How come there’s no barrier?” she said. 

That’s when she contacted her son, Jon Cameron, to step in. 

Cameron video-taped the company as they removed the old asbestos covered boiler in pieces without wrapping any of it in plastic. 

“Pretty much just bare-handing these materials from the basement.  I didn’t notice any masks,” said Jon Cameron. “These guys were wearing T-shirts and shorts and jeans. There was nothing to indicate they were taking precautions in handling asbestos.”

Jon Cameron contacted the province. 

Workplace Safety and Health issues stop-work order

The next morning, Workplace Safety and Health issued stop-work orders against Workman Industries and Sarte Heating and Cooling for a botched asbestos remediation. 

The orders says “Asbestos containing material is being released into the atmosphere at this project site,” and measures used to control asbestos were not used. 

The family said the agency photographed open bags of asbestos still in the basement and told them their home and its contents are contaminated, so they should not be there.

“It was very shocking,” said Jon Cameron, “I was scared and was very angry because this is my family, and they mean everything to me.  There’s no reason for endangering people’s lives.”

CBC News contacted Sarte Heating and Cooling. 

The owner, Lito Mendoza, said his heart goes out to the family, but Workman Industries should be responsible for the clean-up. 

When asked why he arranged for Workman Industries to do the work, he said he has only had one previous job with Workman and the air quality tests done after the fact came back with good results. 

Mendoza said his company has not taken a deposit from the homeowners at this time and said he has offered to pay $500.00 towards their accommodations while they are displaced. 

Construction safety association issues cease and desist order

CBC News tried to contact Workman Industries without success. 

The address listed on its web page is the location where the owner picks up his mail. 

Workman’s website shows a Certificate of Recognition (COR) Program logo, certification which is typically obtained through the Construction Safety Association of Manitoba. 

Typically, the logo means a company has a safety and health program that meets national standards. 

However, when CBC News contacted the association, it said Workman Industries has never been certified by them. 

The association sent Workman Industries a cease and desist letter yesterday, ordering them to stop improperly using the logo. 

The association said the company did attend some classes in 2010 but has never completed the program. 

Family wants home back

Meanwhile, Cherielyn Yabas and her family just want their home and their lives back. 

“We have nothing.  Everything’s in that house,” said Yabas, “It’s our home.  We just want to go home.”

Jon Cameron said he wants a certified company to do the work. 

“It needs to be cleaned.  It needs to be approved by a trustworthy company,” Cameron said.

“My parents need their home back. My sister and brother-in-law and their one-month-old baby need their home back,” he said. “It’s a horrible feeling to be displaced.  It’s a horrible feeling to know your family is without a home and because of no fault of their own — simply because they put their trust in so-called professionals that this would be done properly.”

Read the article:

Winnipeg family left homeless after botched asbestos job

James Hardie Q1 profit slides 80 pct, warns of slower US recovery

* FX changes on asbestos compensation claims hit profit

* US housing market improving slower than expected

* Company’s FY 2015 outlook below analyst forecasts (Adds profit detail, shares, housing market outlook)

SYDNEY, Aug 15 (Reuters) – Australia’s James Hardie Industries PLC , the world’s biggest fibre cement products maker, said on Friday its first-quarter earnings tumbled and warned full-year profit will fall short of analyst expectations as the U.S. housing market recovers more slowly than it previously anticipated.

The firm, which generates two-thirds of its revenue in the United States and Europe, saw its Sydney-listed shares slump after it said net profit for the first quarter of its fiscal year skidded 80 percent. The earnings drop was mainly because of unfavourable changes in exchange rates as the company pays compensation for claims of health damage from historic use of asbestos in products.

Net profit for the three months to June 30 fell to $28.9 million compared to $142.2 million a year ago. Not including asbestos adjustments, gross profit grew 11 percent to $140 million, while revenue rose 12 percent to $416.8 million.

But the company, which supplies products like cladding for the outside walls of houses, presented a more muted outlook on the recovery in the U.S. housing construction market than it gave when it reported results for the previous fiscal year three months ago.

In Sydney James Hardie shares fell as much as 7.5 percent to touch four-month lows. By 0011 GMT the stock had recovered slightly, trading 6.8 percent lower at A$13.08.

In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange, the company said while the U.S. market was improving, with housing starts in the first quarter up 4 percent from a year earlier, the improvement was at “a more moderate level than originally assumed for the year”.

“Recent flattening in housing activity has created some uncertainty about the pace of the recovery in the short-term,” the statement said. “Although U.S. housing activity has been improving for some time, market conditions remain somewhat uncertain and some input costs remain volatile.”

James Hardie noted analysts have forecast it will post operating profit excluding asbestos compensation costs of between $226 million and $261 million for the full financial year. But the company said it expects the result to be in the range of $205 million to $235 million, compared with $197.2 million for the previous year.

(1 US dollar = 1.0733 Australian dollar) (Reporting By Byron Kaye and Jane Wardell; Editing by Chris Reese and Kenneth Maxwell)

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James Hardie Q1 profit slides 80 pct, warns of slower US recovery

U.S. judge strikes sealing order over Garlock asbestos liability

By Jessica Dye

July 24 (Reuters) – A North Carolina federal judge has struck down a bankruptcy court ruling that sealed evidence and testimony about gasket maker Garlock Sealing Technologies’ liability for asbestos injuries, saying no compelling reason was stated to close the proceedings.

The “public and press have a co-extensive right to view and consider documents tendered” in court, wrote U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn in the Western District of North Carolina in Wednesday’s ruling.

Cogburn reversed the sealing order and sent it back to the bankruptcy court for further consideration.

Garlock, a subsidiary of EnPro Industries Inc, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2010 as it faced personal injury claims related to its asbestos-lined gaskets used in pipes, valves and other industrial applications.

Last year, U.S. Judge George Hodges in the Western District of North Carolina bankruptcy court presided over a trial to determine how much Garlock should set aside to cover claims for mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

Lawyers for plaintiffs, who say they were exposed to asbestos from Garlock products, argued the figure should be over $1 billion. But Garlock said its liability was much lower and that that estimate was based on past settlements that were inflated by manipulated evidence and fraud, according to court filings.

Legal Newsline, an online publication owned by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, filed a motion to make all the bankruptcy proceedings public, but Hodges denied it, saying certain matters discussed were confidential.

In January, Hodges ruled that Garlock should only have to pay $125 million for asbestos claims. He also slammed plaintiffs’ lawyers for withholding evidence in previous cases, “infect(ing) fatally the settlement process and historic data.”

After the trial, several companies, including Ford Motor Co and Honeywell International Inc, joined an appeal by Legal Newsline to the North Carolina district court to get the evidence unsealed.

Ford and Honeywell have also been sued over asbestos exposure and were co-defendants in some cases against Garlock.

“We’re optimistic that the evidence will ultimately be disclosed and that people can form their own opinions,” said Steven Pflaum, a lawyer for Legal Newsline.

Harold Kim, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, called the decision an important step toward bringing greater transparency to asbestos litigation.

EnPro spokesman Dan Grgurich said the company was “pleased that the judge agrees that the public has a right to access evidence developed in our case.”

Lawyers for Garlock asbestos claimants did not immediately return requests for comment.

The case is Legal Newsline v. Garlock Sealing Technologies, U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, No. 13-464.

(Reporting by Jessica Dye; Editing by Ted Botha and Richard Chang)

Source:

U.S. judge strikes sealing order over Garlock asbestos liability