The specialty chemical manufacturer, W. R. Grace, is seeking to block a $30 million damages claim filed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection on grounds that the DEP filed the claim too late.
Bankruptcy 360 (full story viewable with free trial subscription)reports that the dispute dates back to June 2005 when the DEP fileld an $800 million fraud law suit against the company, nearly four years after Grace had filed for bankruptcy protection. DEP argues that it did not discover, until after the deadline for filing bankruptcy claims had expired, that a former Grace manufacturing plant site in Hamilton Township, Mercer County, contained 40 percent asbestos. New Jersey contends that Grace lied about the extent of the contamination, an allegation that Grace denies.
Meanwhile, The Baltimore Sun reports that Grace might owe victims of its asbestos products as much as $6.2 billion, according to a legal scholar hired by attorneys suing the chemical maker. Mark A. Peterson, a research scientist at the Rand Corp., estimated that Columbia-based Grace may need to spend from $4.7 billion to $6.2 billion to resolve hundreds of thousands of asbestos cases over several decades.
Grace filed for bankruptcy in 2001 to protect itself from 135,000 asbestos claims. Early next year, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Judith K. Fitzgerald is to hold a trial to set a value on the claims, a major step in resolving the company's six-year-old reorganization effort.