Garlock Sealing Technologies, the top American manufacturer of industrial gasket products, recently agreed to settle all asbestos injury claims for $358 million. The plan was born out of Garlock’s bankruptcy case, during which the company promised to pay off all present and future asbestos claims. Asbestos cancer lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm applaud Garlock for upholding this promise.
Garlock’s parent company, EnPro Industries, stated that he plan will provide payments to all claimants who suffer from asbestos-related diseases from exposure to Garlock’s products. Garlock entered bankruptcy in June 2010, when more than 900,000 asbestos claims were pending. These asbestos claims largely contributed to the company’s bankruptcy.
Throughout the 20th century Garlock Sealing Technologies used asbestos to make many products, such as gaskets, packaging materials, seals, and sheet gaskets. The lawsuits against Garlock involve not just Garlock’s employees, but also pipe fitters, boiler mechanics, and other workers who were exposed to asbestos through Garlock’s products. In 2008, for example, a former boiler mechanic won a $12 million verdict against Garlock for his development of mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
Today, about 100,000 similar claims are pending against Garlock. Similar to many of its competitors, such as Union Carbondale and W.R. Grace & Co., Garlock is choosing to file for bankruptcy and establish an asbestos trust to pay these claims.
Union Carbondale and W.R. Grace are often named as co-defendants in asbestos suits against Garlock, as these companies also made asbestos-containing products with a wide range of applications. Their products have endangered and sickened employees from many occupations in every state. Among these workers include plumbers, miners, electricians, steel workers, factory workers, and countless others. Of course, those who worked specifically for Garlock manufacturing its asbestos-containing products were also exposed.
Garlock is infamous for the amount of litigation it faces, often cited as one of the most-sued companies in American history. It has already paid more than $1.4 billion in asbestos settlements in judgments over the last 35 years.
Under its bankruptcy claim, claimants can choose one of two options: either join a group that is subject to less scrutiny and faster payouts and agree to a maximum $1,000 claim, or pursue litigation, which is more timely and recoveries are not guaranteed. EnPro has agreed to pay up to $30 million to fund settlements if need be.
When breathed into the lungs, asbestos fibers lodge into the lung tissue and remain there permanently. Over many years (often between 20 and 50 years), these asbestos fibers migrate into the surrounding tissue, change cell DNA, and cause serious illnesses. Among the diseases known to be caused by exposure to asbestos include: lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. More information on asbestos-related illnesses can be found here.
In the U.S., up to 4,000 people are diagnosed with an illness caused by exposure every year. Mesothelioma is the most severe of these illnesses, as it is incurable and among the most fatal cancers. There are four types of mesothelioma, though all occur in the thin lining – the mesothelium – surrounding the internal organs, such as the heart, lungs, and abdomen. The most common type is pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lungs.
Lung cancer is also highly associated with asbestos exposure. Many studies have proven that asbestos and cigarette smoking have a synergistic affect in the lungs, causing cancer to develop faster and more aggressively than if someone was exposed to only one of these. Thus, anyone who has been diagnosed with lung cancer, even if they are a former smoker, may be able to file an asbestos claim.
It is also important to note that one does not need direct contact with asbestos to be exposed. There is phenomenon called second-hand, or take-home asbestos exposure, where in family members were exposed to the substance through their loved one’s clothing. Say, for example, that growing up your father worked at a Garlock manufacturing factory, and often came home from work with white dust on his shoes, body and clothing. Any member of his household could have been exposed to that white dust (asbestos) and breathed it into their lungs. They, then, could later on develop an asbestos-related illness.
We know how confusing, frightening, and devastating this is to families. Our team of asbestos exposure attorneys has been fighting on behalf of asbestos victims for over 30 years, gaining a wide network of legal professionals, medical experts and investigators that allows us to accept clients from all 50 states. You do not need to know when or how you were exposed; it is our job to find that out. We provide free legal consultations to any concerned parties, and never charge any attorneys’ fees unless we are successful on your behalf.