Asbestos Companies: Holding Those Accountable for the Corporate Cover-Up

Asbestos was widely used for its fire-resistant properties but has left a lasting impact on workers and consumers with devastating health effects. Bergman Oslund Udo Little assists victims and their families in seeking legal compensation against asbestos companies.

Throughout the 20th century, asbestos was widely used in products and building components because of its durability and heat resistance. However, it eventually became publicly known that the material significantly endangers human health. Asbestos companies knew about the dangers and health risks of these products. Yet, they continued to hide the truth from workers and consumers. Bergman Oslund Udo Little can help you hold these negligent companies liable for their actions.

Asbestos Companies Knew for Decades

The awareness of asbestos hazards dates back to the 1800s. Many asbestos companies knew about the dangers associated with their products. However, they failed to protect their workers and consumers from these hazards. Instead, these companies deliberately tried to conceal these risks, shaping a narrative of denial that would persist for decades.

How Asbestos Companies Covered It Up

In 1935, the Symposium on Dust Problems at the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research became a pivotal moment in the asbestos narrative. At this meeting, many leaders discussed establishing safety standards in the asbestos industry. Unfortunately, these intentions masked the manufacturing companies’ true intent—to cover up the inherent dangers of asbestos

The result was the establishment of official safety standards, but these regulations lacked any external oversight. The National Safety Council and the Industrial Hygiene Foundation seemed to promote safety but created protocols that failed to address any health-related risks. These standards perpetuated a facade of safety while continuing to downplay the dangers of asbestos exposure.

Manufactured Legal Defenses for Asbestos Lawsuits

Many of these deceptive practices continued for decades. Memos, doctors’ notes, and reports were often hidden from workers and the general public. Instead of addressing the hazardous conditions or offering protective equipment to employees, these companies would pay monetary compensation to them to stop talking about these problems.

While many cases headed to court, the asbestos manufacturers used the same safety standards from 1935 as a legal defense for their activities and usually won the suit. Unfortunately, many workers and consumers could never properly seek justice against these neglected businesses. Years of deceptive proactive and hush money clouded these individuals’ fight for the truth.

The Sumner Simpson Papers

The release of the Sumner Simpson Papers was another turning point in the asbestos narrative. Sumner Simpson was the president of Raybestos-Manhattan Inc. in the 1930s and 40s. The company manufactured asbestos brakes and other products containing the material. The papers contained his correspondence with other corporate leaders in the asbestos industry. The correspondence was obtained in the 1970s in an asbestos exposure lawsuit. 

These papers presented a damning collection of evidence detailing the conscious disregard for the health and safety of workers and the public. They exposed the deliberate attempts to cover the inherent dangers of asbestos. These documents included confidential memos, letters, internal communications, and corporate records showing these companies made a widespread and deliberate effort to conceal the truth. Asbestos manufacturers worked to downplay the risks, manipulate public perception, and impede regulatory interventions.

After the papers were released, the legal landscape began shifting in favor of those affected by the neglect of companies and manufacturers. Families now had evidence that asbestos companies and manufacturers knew of the dangers but continued to put their loved ones in harm’s way. These affected families had the proof to build compelling cases against negligent corporations.

The Sumner Simpson Papers became the catalyst for legislative reforms and heightened scrutiny within regulatory bodies. Governments started to reevaluate safety standards, enforce stricter regulations, and hold asbestos companies accountable for their actions. That allowed affected families to pursue justice in these asbestos liability cases.

Companies Known for Asbestos Exposure Lawsuits in the Pacific Northwest

While the Pacific Northwest is known for its natural beauty, the main industries center around manufacturing. Many of those companies used asbestos, exposing their workers and consumers to its dangers. Several companies known for workplace asbestos exposure had facilities located in Washington and Oregon.

Asbestos Companies Filed for Bankruptcy

The repercussions of the asbestos industry’s long-standing cover-ups and legal battles affected many businesses. With the weight of mounting lawsuits, many asbestos companies faced a financial crisis and filed for bankruptcy protection, including Johns-Manville, one of the largest manufacturers of insulation, roofing products, and piping. While the bankruptcies halted litigation against these companies, bankruptcy courts ordered them to establish asbestos trust funds to compensate victims.

Those suffering from asbestos-related illnesses could continue to pursue compensation even after the responsible companies declared bankruptcy. Many of the trust funds still have money available to those harmed by the asbestos exposure and the industry’s deceptive actions.

Common Products Containing Asbestos

Asbestos was valued for its fire-resistant and durable properties. Thus, this mineral found its way into a multitude of everyday products. For instance, many homes had asbestos covers or blankets as fire prevention tools.  Its fire-retardant nature made it a reasonable choice for manufacturers wanting to boost their products’ safety. By disregarding the apparent health risks of these products containing asbestos, many people were exposed to the dangers of the mineral.

magnifying glass looking at asbestos fiber board

Here are some common asbestos-containing products:

Consumer Goods:

Safety Equipment:

Construction Materials:

Occupations Commonly Affected by Asbestos Exposure

Many occupations exposed workers to asbestos. These workers directly interacted with this hazardous mineral in many building materials. Construction, shipbuilding, and automotive repair are known for using asbestos-containing products. Additionally, occupations involving maintenance, asbestos insulation installation, and firefighting placed workers in environments where asbestos exposure was a concern.

Get A Free Legal Consultation for Your Asbestos Claim

Asbestos exposure due to the negligence and deception of companies and manufacturers impacted many lives. If you face the consequences of these hazards, our dedicated team of experienced asbestos claim lawyers at Bergman Oslund Udo Little can help. We are here to assist you. 

You can take the first step toward justice by scheduling a free consultation with our team. Whether you’re seeking compensation for health-related expenses or want to hold those responsible for your exposure accountable, our lawyers are ready to assist with your case. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and take control of your asbestos claim journey.  

Get a free case review today.

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Corporate Asbestos Exposure FAQs

My Company Has Exposed Me to Asbestos. What Should I Do?

If you suspect asbestos exposure at your workplace, take steps to protect your health and safety. Notify your employer immediately and seek medical attention. Document any relevant information, such as exposure circumstances and dates. This evidence can support any potential legal or compensation claims. Most importantly, contact an experienced and skilled asbestos exposure attorney to determine if you qualify for compensation.

Asbestos manufacturing has significantly decreased or halted in many countries due to health concerns. However, some nations, including the United States, may still produce asbestos or use products containing it.

While asbestos bans exist in numerous countries, some nations still allow its use. These include Russia, India, and the United States. While the United States has not mined asbestos since the mid-1970s, some products containing the mineral are still imported into the country.

Asbestos exposure can lead to severe health issues, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. These diseases often do not show symptoms immediately. Instead, it could be years after the exposure that a person’s health will be affected. Anyone at risk for asbestos exposure may want to schedule regular health check-ups.

  • Although the dangers of asbestos were well-known in the medical community by the 1930s, asbestos was manufactured and used in industry and construction until the mid-1970s. These companies understood that there was a lot of money to be made distributing asbestos products, and they were confident that the illnesses would develop so long after the individuals were exposed to their products that they would never be held responsible.
  • Learn more about how asbestos companies knowingly exposed the public to serious health effects.
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