Eagle-Picher Industries to Use Bankruptcy Laws to Settle Asbestos Suits

Article excerpt

CINCINNATI (AP) - Eagle-Picher Industries Inc. is making profits and does not need to use its Chapter 11 court protection to restructure its operations, the company chairman said.

Eagle-Picher wants to use its bankruptcy court reorganization to settle thousands of asbestos injury lawsuits as quickly as possible, Chairman Thomas E. Petry told an informal meeting of creditors Wednesday.

The company has two plants in Picher, Okla., and two in Miami, Okla.

The auto parts and industrial products maker dashed hopes for the first comprehensive settlement of more than 70,000 asbestos disease lawsuits by filing for protection from creditors on Jan. 7.

Eagle-Picher filed for reorganization after plans collapsed to sell a division to finance $45 million in asbestos settlements. Petry said the company has since abandoned efforts to sell assets to pay for settlements.

The filing does not mean the company is in jeopardy, he said.

``The important thing is that, despite the cyclical nature of the market, the company has been profitable, quarter after quarter, for 40 years,'' Petry said.

``We plan to use this Chapter 11 to resolve all of the company's toxic tort claims, moving as quickly as possible,'' he said.

Eagle-Picher's 15 divisions in the United States and Europe are operating normally and most of its suppliers are making normal deliveries, Petry said. …