T H Agriculture files for bankruptcy amid lawsuits

NEW YORK, Nov 24 (Reuters) - T H Agriculture & Nutrition filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday, saying it faced personal injury litigation over asbestos and Vietnam-era exposure to “Agent Orange.”

The company is pursuing a “pre-packaged” bankruptcy, indicating that it has already obtained certain agreements from creditors and can move more quickly through the bankruptcy process.

T H Agriculture distributed bulk shipments of chrysotile asbestos fiber in the United States from about 1960 through 1980, according to court documents in the U.S. bankruptcy court for the Southern District of New York. It also distributed laundry products and vermiculite that it said may have contained asbestos.

Court documents said the company is involved in almost 6,000 pending asbestos cases, and since the late 1970s has been named as a defendant in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits, allegedly resulting from exposure to “Agent Orange”, an herbicide used in defoliation operations in Vietnam.

Court documents showed that T H Agriculture & Nutrition was one of several manufacturers that sold Agent Orange to the U.S. military between 1965 and 1971.

The company’s main business is involved in resolving the lawsuits and managing certain commercial real estate properties that generate rental income, it said in court documents.

The company, incorporated as Thompson-Munro-Robbins Chemical Co in January 1917, had assets of about $78 million, and liabilities of about $577 million, as of August 31, 2008, it said in court papers.

Philips Electronics North America Corp, the U.S. arm of Dutch Philips Electronics PHG.AS, owns 10 percent or more of the company, according to court papers. (Reporting by Emily Chasan and Chelsea Emery)