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Petition Urges Congress to Fund Mesothelioma Research
Federal Commitment Can Bring Within Reach Effective Treatment for Lethal Asbestos-Related Cancer
SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Feb. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) announced today a grassroots campaign for a federal commitment to address the national tragedy of mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma (meso) is an asbestos-related cancer that invades the lining of the lungs, abdomen, heart or testicles, causing excruciating pain and death. Government and industry have known about the disease for half a century, and legal disputes over liability have consumed billions of dollars. But the need for research funding to develop treatments has largely been ignored. There is no designated federal funding for meso research. As a result, today's standard treatments usually have only a very limited effect and the average survival is only 4 to 14 months.
Meso kills thousands of Americans each year, it has a long latency (30 years average) and its incidence is rising. For decades, asbestos was used heavily in Navy ships and shipyards, in industrial workplaces, and in the construction of virtually all homes, schools and office buildings. Most at risk are the millions of U.S. workers and servicemen who were exposed almost daily, as well as their wives and children -- exposed when they brought the fibers home each night on their hair, skin and clothes.
Americans continue to be put at risk today. Even short-term, low exposures can cause the disease, and the EPA estimates that asbestos is present in as many as 35 million U.S. homes. It still has not been banned in the U.S. and is used in over 3,000 products. Hundreds of tons were released into New York's air from the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Therefore, MARF is calling on the government to join in a public-private partnership to advance critically-needed meso research. MARF, the nation's largest private source of independent meso research funding, has developed a detailed proposal for a National Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Program (NMRTP). Under the NMRTP, the federal government would invest $30 million per year to help develop recent advances in meso early detection, prevention, and treatment of meso.
Five days ago MARF began circulating a petition calling on Congress to appropriate the funds necessary for the NMRTP. Over 1200 individuals have already signed. MARF hopes to gather 10,000 signatures by March 15 and submit them to the Senate Appropriations Committee, so that the NMRTP proposal can be included in Congress's initial budget submission.
According to MARF, the NMRTP presents an historic opportunity for federal leaders to end the tragedy of mesothelioma. For decades meso was dismissed with the self-defeating rationale that "the disease is incurable, so why try?" But with an investment of over $2 million in meso research during the last five years, MARF has established that meso has the potential to become a curable cancer. Indeed medical experts who specialize in meso now believe that with an appropriate commitment of resources, effective treatments for the tumor, and even methods to detect and prevent it before symptoms erupt, are within reach.
"Just in time," says MARF Communications Director and meso patient Klaus Brauch. Brauch authored an exhaustive MARF report documenting that at least 100,000 firefighters, police officers, rescue workers and New York City residents, workers and school children were exposed to potentially lethal amounts of asbestos following the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11.
"Unless we act now to fully develop the recent breakthroughs in early detection, prevention and treatment, we are virtually guaranteed to have more victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack in the next 10 to 30 years," he says. "I cannot believe that America will stand by as our brave first responders succumb to cancer caused by this horrific act. We have a warning and time to take action but not unlimited time."
Resources are not unlimited either, but even with anticipated cuts in domestic spending, MARF is confident that the resources can be found. The National Cancer Institute, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Defense all significantly fund research in diseases other than meso. Their proposed budgets for 2006 are, respectively, $4.8 billion, $70.8 billion, and $401.7 billion. The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering controversial legislation to create a $140 billion trust fund to "compensate" asbestos disease victims after they get sick. "Surely Congress can find $30 million to prevent the suffering and death in the first place," says MARF Executive Director Christopher Hahn.
"The notion that our hands are tied, and that meso is a horrible death sentence that we cannot do anything about is dangerously apathetic, outdated and misinformed," Hahn continues. "It would be unconscionable for Congress to tell meso victims that it is simply giving up on this disease. Up to one third of these victims served our country in Navy ships and shipyards. 'Surrender' is not in their vocabulary."
To read and sign MARF's meso funding petition, go to www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/698473747. MARF's entire NMRTP proposal is available on its home page, www.marf.org.
For further information, or to make a donation for research, please visit www.marf.org, or contact MARF Executive Director Chris Hahn (email@example.com) at 805.560.8942, or MARF Communications Director Klaus Brauch (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 714.969.1481.
Source: Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation
Congoleum Corporation to Submit Listing Requirement Compliance Plan to Amex
August 27, 2007 - MERCERVILLE, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Congoleum Corporation (AMEX:CGM) reported today that it has received a letter from the American Stock Exchange (the Amex) indicating that it is not in compliance with Sections 134 and 1101 of the Amex Company Guide due to the fact that it has not yet filed its Form 10-Q for the period ended June 30, 2007. As previously reported, Congoleum has delayed filing its 10-Q pending completion of a review by the SEC of its accounting policies and disclosures with respect to asbestos liabilities, insurance settlements, and related costs. The letter also stated that Congoleum must submit a plan by September 5, 2007 advising the Amex of actions it has taken or will take to achieve compliance with the continued listing standards, and that this plan must be approved by the Amex, for Congoleum to maintain its listing on the Amex. If Congoleum does not submit a plan to the Amex, or submits a plan that is not accepted, it will be subject to delisting proceedings.
In June 2007, Congoleum received a comment letter from the SEC indicating it had reviewed Congoleum's Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2006 and requesting supplemental information on Congoleum's accounting policies and disclosures related to asbestos liabilities, insurance settlements, and related costs. Congoleum responded to this request on August 1, 2007, and Congoleum received correspondence seeking additional information from the SEC on August 22, 2007.
Roger S. Marcus, Chairman of the Board, commented We discussed the SEC review process and the potential 10-Q filing delay with the Amex prior to the filing deadline and were aware a compliance plan would be needed. While the accounting issues raised by our asbestos situation are complex, we are responding to the SECs inquiries and expect they will complete their review within a reasonable period of time. Once their review is completed, we will complete and file our 10-Q accordingly.
On December 31, 2003, Congoleum Corporation filed a voluntary petition with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey (Case No. 03-51524) seeking relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code as a means to resolve claims asserted against it related to the use of asbestos in its products decades ago.
Congoleum Corporation is a leading manufacturer of resilient flooring, serving both residential and commercial markets. Its sheet, tile and plank products are available in a wide variety of designs and colors, and are used in remodeling, manufactured housing, new construction and commercial applications. The Congoleum brand name is recognized and trusted by consumers as representing a company that has been supplying attractive and durable flooring products for over a century. Congoleum is a 55% owned subsidiary of American Biltrite Inc. (AMEX:ABL).
The above news release contains certain forward-looking statements, within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, that involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. These statements can be identified by the use of the words such as "anticipate," "believe," "estimate," "expect," "intend, "plan," "project" and other words of similar meaning. In particular, these include statements relating to intentions, beliefs or current expectations concerning, among other things, future performance, results of operations, the outcome of contingencies such as bankruptcy and other legal proceedings, and financial conditions. These statements do not relate strictly to historical or current facts. These forward-looking statements are based on Congoleum's expectations, as of the date of this release, of future events, and Congoleum undertakes no obligation to update any of these forward-looking statements.
Although Congoleum believes that these expectations are based on reasonable assumptions, within the bounds of its knowledge of its business and operations, there can be no assurance that actual results will not differ materially from its expectations. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements. Any or all of these statements may turn out to be incorrect. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties because they relate to events and depend on circumstances that may or may not occur in the future. Any forward-looking statements made in this press release speak only as of the date of such statement. It is not possible to predict or identify all factors that could potentially cause actual results to differ materially from expected and historical results. Factors that could cause actual results to differ from expectations include: (i) the future cost and timing of estimated asbestos liabilities and payments, (ii) the availability of insurance coverage and reimbursement from insurance companies that underwrote the applicable insurance policies for the Company for asbestos-related claims, (iii) the costs relating to the execution and implementation of any plan of reorganization pursued by Congoleum, (iv) timely reaching agreement with other creditors, or classes of creditors, that exist or may emerge, (v) satisfaction of the conditions and obligations under Congoleum's outstanding debt instruments, (vi) the response from time to time of Congoleum's and its controlling shareholder's, American Biltrite Inc.'s, lenders, customers, suppliers and other constituencies to the ongoing process arising from Congoleum's strategy to settle its asbestos liability, (vii) Congoleum's ability to maintain debtor-in-possession financing sufficient to provide it with funding that may be needed during the pendency of its Chapter 11 case and to obtain exit financing sufficient to provide it with funding that may be needed for its operations after emerging from the bankruptcy process, in each case, on reasonable terms, (viii) timely obtaining sufficient creditor and court approval (including the results of any relevant appeals) of any reorganization plan pursued by Congoleum and the court overruling any objections to the plan that may be filed, (ix) compliance with the United States Bankruptcy Code, including Section 524(g), (x) costs of, developments in, and the outcome of insurance coverage litigation pending in New Jersey state court involving Congoleum and certain insurers, (xi) the extent to which Congoleum is able to obtain reimbursement for costs of the coverage litigation, (xii) the possible adoption of another party's plan of reorganization which may prove to be unfeasible, (xiii) the possible elimination of the some or all interests of all existing shareholders under a plan that may be proposed by Congoleum or any other party, (xiv) developments in, and the outcome of, proposed federal legislation that, if adopted, would establish a national trust to provide compensation to victims of asbestos-related injuries that would be funded by assessments against companies with asbestos-related liabilities such as Congoleum, (xv) increases in raw material prices or disruption in supply, (xvi) increased competitive activity from companies in the flooring industry, some of which have greater resources and broader distribution channels than Congoleum, (xvii) increases in the costs of environmental compliance and remediation or the exhaustion of insurance coverage for such expenses, (xviii) unfavorable developments in the national economy or in the housing industry in general, including developments arising from the war in Iraq, (xix) shipment delays, depletion of inventory and increased production costs resulting from unforeseen disruptions of operations at any of Congoleum's facilities or distributors, (xx) product warranty costs, (xxi) changes in distributors of Congoleum's products, (xxii) Congoleum's interests may not be the same as its controlling shareholder American Biltrite, Inc., (xxiii) possible future sales by ABI could adversely affect the market for Congoleum's stock, (xxiv) the potential impact if the Company is unable to maintain its listing on the American Stock Exchange, and (xxv) the effect of any supplement, restatement or other changes to the Companys financial statements with respect to liabilities to asbestos personal injury claims that may be required as a result of a review process by the SEC, including the effect of any changes or restatement on Congoleums compliance with the continued listing requirements of the American Stock Exchange. In any event, if Congoleum is not successful in obtaining sufficient creditor and court approval of a plan of reorganization, such failure would have a material adverse effect upon its business, results of operations and financial condition. Actual results could differ significantly as a result of these and other factors discussed in Congoleum's annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2006 and subsequent filings made by Congoleum with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Howard N. Feist
Chief Financial Officer