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Dozens Perish without Receiving a Penny

Byline: By Gayle Tomlinson Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), February 24, 2005

At least 100 North East asbestos victims have died while waiting for American bosses to end a four-year compensation wrangle.

Figures today reveal the scale of the death toll from mesothelioma as the long-running financial dispute surrounding Federal Mogul continues to drag on.

The victims ( many of whom worked at the former Washington Chemical Company and Newalls Insulation in Washington ( died in agony without a penny being paid out for their illnesses.

More could die before Turner and Newalls' parent company finally settles an argument over how much it needs to pay to former workers in the UK.

Federal Mogul owns Turner and Newall and went into administration in 2001. The process froze any compensation claims by those suffering from asbestos-related diseases.

Turner and Newall in Washington made asbestos while Newalls Insulation hired contractors to put asbestos in to ships and premises.

Lawyers, administrators and creditors are working to set up a trust that will ensure pensions are paid and part of the compensation is received.

But talks are at a standstill with Federal Mogul failing to agree on the amount needed to cover claims.

The firm has lined up pay offs to its British workforce of just a fifth of what they are paying their American counterparts.

The talks have dragged on since October 2001. Now more than 1,220 UK claims are held against the firm.

More than half of these were brought since the company went into administration.

It is believed an estimated 300 people across the UK have died since the firm froze compensation claims.

Figures from the Turner and Newall UK Creditors Committee show one in three claims are from people living in the North East.

While a third of the claims are believed to be brought from people suffering from mesothelioma.

The lifespan for people with the lung cancer is between 12 and 18 months.

Of the claims against Federal Mogul, 330 are from family members who have developed asbestos-related diseases from the work clothes of relatives for Turner & Newall.

Some of these have also developed asbestos-related illnesses because they lived near the factories.

Ian McFall, of Thompsons Solicitors, said: "It is shocking that so many people have died while waiting for compensation payments."

In a statement, Federal-Mogul has listed subsidiary companies where workers may be due for payouts, including Washington Chemicals.

The statement said: "The plan proposes the creation of a trust to pay asbestos personal injury claims."