|Michael F. Easley, Governor
Buck Lattimore, Chairman
Thomas J. Bolch, Commissioner
Laura K. Mavretic, Commissioner
Renée C. Riggsbee, Commissioner
Christopher Scott, Commissioner
Dianne C. Sellers, Commissioner
TO: All Interested Parties
FROM: Chairman Buck Lattimore
DATE: November 8, 2002 [SEE ALSO Chairman Lattimore's April 4, 2003 Memorandum]
RE: P.H. Glatfelter/RFS Ecusta Workers’ Compensation Claims in North Carolina
RFS Ecusta has filed bankruptcy in Federal
Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. Ecusta has approximately two hundred active
workers’ compensation claims in the State of North Carolina, including a
significant number of asbestos occupational disease claims, which it assumed
from P. H. Glatfelter. The following is our current understanding of the
Glatfelter operated a paper
manufacturing facility in western North Carolina. Glatfelter was certified by
the North Carolina Department of Insurance
as an approved self-insurer for workers’ compensation claims. As a part of
that certification, Glatfelter posted a security deposit with the Commissioner
of Insurance in the approximate amount of 1.6 Million Dollars.
sold its North Carolina operations to Ecusta in approximately 2001. Ecusta
agreed to assume and pay Glatfelter’s existing self-insured workers’
compensation claims. The North Carolina Department of Insurance permitted Ecusta
to substitute a statutory security deposit for that of Glatfelter. Ecusta did
not seek approval from the Department of Insurance as an approved self-insurer
in North Carolina for the claims it assumed from Glatfelter. Ecusta did purchase
commercial workers’ compensation insurance coverage for its operations in
North Carolina for claims other than the claims assumed from Glatfelter.
coverage information available to the Industrial Commission, the following
coverage history is applicable to Glatfelter/Ecusta claims:
January 17, 1992 to July 15, 2001: Self Insured
17, 2001 to September 17, 2003: Continental
now in Federal Bankruptcy. Pursuant to the automatic stay afforded by Federal
law, the Industrial Commission has stayed all proceedings against Ecusta.
Ecusta has ceased processing claims and paying
workers’ compensation benefits on claims assumed from Glatfelter. The
Industrial Commission presented this matter to the North
Carolina Self-Insurance Guaranty Association. The NCSIGA contends that the
claims assumed from Glatfelter are not “covered” claims within the meaning
of N.C. Gen.
Stat. §§97-130, et. seq. as Ecusta was not an approved self-insurer.
letter detailing its position on this matter is available on the Industrial
I have met with Commissioner Jim Long of the North
Carolina Department of Insurance. His office is currently reviewing the
situation and our request for advice on the proper procedure by which claimants
can access Ecusta’s statutory security deposit held by the Department of
Chief Deputy Commissioner Stephen Gheen has advised
Glatfelter that it would appear that Glatfelter is responsible for resuming
processing and payment of all claims assumed by Ecusta. A response is expected
shortly. Unless Glatfelter timely resumes payment of ongoing benefits in the
cases outstanding in North Carolina, Glatfelter and the NCSIGA will be added as
party defendants in these cases and the Deputy Commissioner Section will
schedule an immediate hearing on the issues of payment of benefits in the
assumed claims. If a hearing is scheduled, this information will be posted on
Employees whose claims were assumed by Ecusta from
Glatfelter are experiencing and may expect a continuing disruption in the
processing and payment of their claims. The Industrial Commission is proceeding
diligently to make the period of disruption as brief as possible.
Ecusta employees who filed claims during the period
of commercial insurance coverage should experience no disruption in the
processing or payment of their claims. If any claimant does not receive benefits
to which they are lawfully entitled or should benefits awarded be suspended or
terminated for unexplained reasons in these cases, please notify the Industrial
Questions or concerns regarding Glatfelter/Ecusta
claims should be directed to: Stephen
T. Gheen, Chief Deputy Commissioner, 919-807-2540 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to the volume of inquiries, email communication is requested if possible,
though not required.
The Industrial Commission website (www.comp.state.nc.us)
will be updated as needed with additional information.
Read Chairman Lattimore's April 4, 2003 Memorandum
Read Chief Deputy Commissioner Stephen T. Gheen's December 3, 2002 Order.
Read Chairman Lattimore's November 19, 2002 Memorandum
Read NCSIGA's October 28, 2002 Letter.