Ohio Court Searches for Heirs in $2M Travelers Asbestos Claim Payout

April 28, 2016

A northeast Ohio court is trying to track down for heirs to hundreds of rubber workers who died or became very ill because of exposure to asbestos as it looks to pay out about $2 million in legal claims.

Heirs have been found for many of the deceased workers with pending claims in the past year. The Summit County Probate Court posted a list on its website of about 850 deceased rubber workers whose heirs haven’t been located, The Akron Beacon Journal reported.

An $80 million fund was created in 2004 after insurance giant Travelers Cos. settled with lawyers for thousands of workers who had asbestos-related claims. A series of appeals delayed payouts until the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court in New York ordered Travelers to pay in 2014.

“After a long fight, we finally created a pot of money,” attorney Tom Bevan said. “Unfortunately, so much time passed, we have been unable to locate heirs.”

Bevan & Associates, a Boston Heights-based law firm that helped fight the asbestos litigation, filed about 1,700 cases in probate court last year involving rubber workers who died and whose heirs couldn’t immediately be found. The move gave them time to try to locate surviving descendants.

If the attorneys had an address for the rubber workers or their family, they sent them a letter. They also did online searches and tried to reach them by phone.

Damage claims range from $2,100 to $23,000, based on medical diagnoses for various asbestos-related illnesses.

About 19,000 cases are being paid from the settlement across the country. Summit County has the most, with about 6,000.

Heirs have been located in about half of the county’s pending probate cases.

“We still have a long ways to go,” Bevan said.

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