Were you exposed to asbestos during your employment at Georgia-Pacific? If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, you may be entitled to compensation. Keep reading to learn more.
Georgia-Pacific LLC is best known for making many popular household brands such as Angel Soft and Quilted Northern toilet paper, Brawny paper towels, and Dixie paper products. While Georgia-Pacific no longer makes any products with asbestos, Georgia-Pacific, which now exists under the Koch Industries umbrella, does face hundreds of asbestos exposure lawsuits from the past.
History of Asbestos Use at Georgia-Pacific LLC
Georgia-Pacific Corporation originally was a lumber wholesaler in the early 20th century. By the 1940s, the company had gone to the West coast and ran plywood and sawmills across the U.S. The company expanded into pulp and paper in the 1950s by acquiring several companies, including Bestwall Gypsum Company in 1965. All of the companies Georgia-Pacific acquired used asbestos in their paper products and building materials.
These purchases, which took place just as asbestos was being used the most in the 1970s, meant that the company was now in the business of producing many products with asbestos in them, especially products related to drywall. (Mesothelioma.com)
It was not just construction workers at this time who could be exposed to asbestos. Other types of workers may have come in contact with Bestwall Gypsum asbestos products, including construction workers, shipyard workers, maintenance workers, and demolition workers. Some of these workers were not diagnosed with mesothelioma until 50 years after asbestos exposure.
The company was producing plaster and drywall adhesive that contained asbestos under the Bestwall Gypsum name until the 1970s. Joint compound containing asbestos also was made by Georgia-Pacific and its subsidiaries. The material is usually applied to sheetrock in thin lawyers and sanded to smooth the wall surface. This left many construction workers at risk of asbestos exposure.
Many people were at risk of mesothelioma or lung cancer because of the asbestos that was used in various Georgia-Pacific products, especially its joint compound. These employees often were working around sheetrock and joint compound with asbestos without proper safety gear to protect their lungs from asbestos. Also, thousands of homeowners and construction workers who lived or worked near the dangerous joint compound also faced exposure risks. Further, when these older homes are restored, renovated or repaired, people are at higher risk of asbestos exposure.
Throughout the company’s use of asbestos over the decades, the risk of being exposed was not understood by workers.
Georgia-Pacific Was Aware of the Asbestos Risks
Also, it has been discovered that the company may have fought some asbestos lawsuits in a potentially illegal way. A New York appeals court decision found the organization could have taken fraudulent actions. As the lawsuits for asbestos exposure came in, the company paid consultants to scientists and consultants to release experiments that defended its products. These studies intended to case doubt on the fact that asbestos products can cause mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Specifically, in 2005, Georgia-Pacific was accused of compensating scientists $6 million to recreate joint compounds and do clinical studies to disprove the dangers of their asbestos-containing products.
The scientists tested exposure to the products on rats and concluded the asbestos fibers were cleared by the lungs and there was no health risk. Despite the company’s efforts to disprove the dangers of being exposed to asbestos, they still had many lawsuits against them for the asbestos-containing products. Thousands of employees developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to Georgia-Pacific products.
It was clear the company was aware of the risks its workers faced from asbestos exposure. Construction workers, factory workers, firefighters, demolition workers, drywall tapers, and hardware store employees were most often at risk of asbestos exposure.
Georgia-Pacific Faced 300,000 Asbestos Lawsuits as of 2003
In one famous case, Hall of Fame football player Merlin Olsen filed a personal injury lawsuit against Georgia-Pacific LLC and seven other companies. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2009, which he said was from asbestos exposure to drywall while working in construction as a child. He died the net year, but the lawsuit was settled in 2011 for an undisclosed sum.
Georgia-Pacific also had a $17 million verdict in 2015 in a mesothelioma lawsuit. A painter named Roy Taylor was diagnosed with asbestos cancer from allegedly doing work in Saudi Arabia in the 1970s. He believed his asbestos exposure came from the joint compound made by Georgia-Pacific, as well as Dow Chemical products. Dow was not found to be liable, but the jury found Georgia-Pacific 55% at fault and the company Raytheon 30% at fault.
Despite these large lawsuits, Georgia-Pacific LLC has not filed bankruptcy and has not established a trust fund to pay asbestos exposure victims. However, other companies under their corporate umbrella, such as Bestwall Gypsum filed bankruptcy in 2017. This occurred after asbestos claims were made resulting in $160 million in legally bills each year.
Cases such as the above have cost Georgia-Pacific LLC and Koch Industries billions of dollars. While the company has taken strides to avoid liability, it has largely not had success. It is likely more mesothelioma lawsuits will be filed against the company and it will be required to pay more jury awards and settlements.
If you were exposed to asbestos and have mesothelioma, and believe your illness may be related to Georgia-Pacific LLC or Bestwall Gypsum products, you may want to talk to an experienced mesothelioma attorney. You could be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses.