Judge OKs Dana Corp.’s $2M Settlement with Asbestos Victims

By Christopher Witkowsky | November 19, 2007

Dana Corp. has won court approval to pay $2 million to settle personal-injury claims from 7,500 people who say they were sickened by Dana products that contained asbestos.

Judge Burton Lifland of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan said the deal resolves large number of the 150,000 personal-injury claims against the Toledo, Ohio-based auto-parts maker.

Lifland overruled objections from an informal committee representing asbestos claimants. The committee asked for, among other things, more information about Dana’s settlement with the 7,500 people. Lifland said enough information about the settlement is already available.

“The salient terms of the settlement have been exposed for all,” Lifland said. He said the settlement payments will be made with insurance proceeds, so the payout won’t be a burden to the company.

Dana has been working to get out of bankruptcy by the end of the year. Part of the company’s efforts to exit Chapter 11 protection includes settling the hundreds of thousands of personal-injury claims against it.

Dana intends to deal with other asbestos-related bankruptcy claims after it exits Chapter 11. The company, however, said many of those claimants haven’t become sick. According to court papers, only about 7 percent of the asbestos claims filed against Dana allege mesothelioma or cancer.

Dana has said the settlement will cost up to $2 million as long as all the people involved can come forward with the required proof to support their claims. The deal will resolve about 7 percent of the mesothelioma claims and 4 percent of the cancer claims filed against Dana.

Dana, which makes driveshafts, axles and other parts, is trying to exit bankruptcy under a plan of reorganization that calls for unsecured creditors to be paid back between 72 percent and 86 percent of what they are owed.

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