Kaiser Aluminum was founded in 1946 and specialized in the production of complex aluminum products for the automotive and aerospace industries. The company also was involved in all aspects of aluminum, including mining bauxite, refining, and manufacturing aluminum products. (Kaiseraluminum.com)
Some of the products that the company produces today include:
- Forge stock
For about 30 years, Kaiser Aluminum used asbestos in the manufacture of some of its products for the mineral’s high-heat resistance. The company also used asbestos to insulate its facilities for refining aluminum. Because of this heavy use of asbestos for years, dozens of workers filed lawsuits against Kaiser after developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related conditions.
Asbestos Use At Kaiser Aluminum Facilities
Processing aluminum does not require asbestos directly. However, the aluminum refining process involves high temperatures. Equipment that is used in aluminum refining was often made with asbestos to insulate the materials and protect workers from fire and heat.
Asbestos is cheap, abundant, and highly resistant to heat and chemical reactions. These factors made the mineral a natural choice for use in applications with high temperatures, such as refining bauxite to produce aluminum.
Kaiser also used asbestos in some products that did not involve aluminum. For years, the company produced construction and refractory materials that contained asbestos. Some of the asbestos-containing materials include:
- Block castable insulation
- Fire bricks
- Furnace castable insulating cement
- Mineral wool cement
- Hardtop finishing cement
- Siding board
- Wall panels
Some of the brand names of the asbestos-containing products were:
- K-N Plastic Chrome Ore
- Coelex 60 Unitab Brick
- Vee Block Castable Insulation
- Plastic Cement Insulation
- Blast Furnace Castable Insulating Cement
- M-Block Insulation
- Super D Block Insulation
- Hard Top Finishing Cement
- KR 1202/1204 M/C Brick
These products were manufactured by the company until the 1970s.
Occupational Asbestos Exposure at Kaiser Aluminum
Many workers at Kaiser Aluminum were put at risk of being exposed to asbestos. Workings in the refining facilities were at high risk of asbestos exposure from the materials in the equipment they handled every day.
People who made materials with asbestos in them also were at risk. Workers in other industries that used Kaiser’s asbestos products also were exposed. Some of the workers who were at the highest risk of exposure were construction workers, auto mechanics, and aerospace workers.
Overview Of The Injury Trust
By 2001, there were thousands of asbestos-related lawsuits against Kaiser. The company could not handle the payments or the legal costs of defending itself. That is why Kaiser entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2002. In 2006, the company emerged from bankruptcy.
As part of the bankruptcy agreement, the company was mandated by the court to establish an asbestos trust fund to compensate victims of asbestos exposure who developed mesothelioma and other diseases. (Kaiserasbestostrust.com)
The trust opened in 2006 and was originally funded with $1.2 billion. It is still active and is accepting claims.
Asbestos claims for compensation from the trust are categorized by the following disease levels with the estimated payments for each:
- Mesothelioma – Level VIII – $70,000
- Lung Cancer 1 – Level VII – $27,500
- Lung Cancer 2 – Level VI – None
- Other Cancer – Level V – $13,800
- Severe Asbestosis – Level (IV) – $20,750
- Asbestosis/Pleural Disease – Level III – $4,850
- Asbestosis/Pleural Disease – Level II – $700
- Other Asbestos Disease – Level I – $200
Note that the trustees may adjust the payment level to reflect updated estimates of current liabilities. Because it is uncertain what the number and severity of claims will be in the future, the trust cannot guarantee an exact payment percentage.
Also, to ensure the trust has enough money to pay future claims in similar amounts, the trust may only pay a maximum amount on claims in any one year. Further, 70% of the maximum annual amount must be used to pay claims in Disease Levels IV-VIII and 30% to pay claims in Disease Levels II and III.
Qualifying for the Asbestos Trust Fund
To qualify for compensation from the fund, it is required that all diagnoses of a disease level by accompanied by a statement from your doctor providing the diagnosis that at least 10 years have passed from the date of initial exposure to asbestos or asbestos-containing products.
Or, the history of your asbestos exposure is enough to establish a 10-year latency period. Medical documentation that supports the disease level you claim needs to be submitted with the claim form.
Kaiser Aluminum Lawsuits
Kaiser was one of several companies that paid settlements to Geraldine and Henry Barabin after their 2007 mesothelioma lawsuit. Henry Barabin developed asbestos cancer after he worked for years in a refinery and paper mill.
In the personal injury lawsuit, he said he was exposed to both amphibole and chrysotile asbestos. Kaiser was one of 17 companies that settled the claim. Kaiser paid $39,900, and Barabin passed away in 2012. (Asbestos.com)
Kaiser Aluminum was involved in the production of many products that contained asbestos. Also, some of its facilities were made with asbestos insulation.
If you or a loved one got mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease working at Kaiser Aluminum or from one of its products it is important to speak with a mesothelioma lawyer as soon as you can.
Your attorney can determine if you may be eligible for mesothelioma compensation. If so, you can file a claim with the Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation Asbestos Personal Injury Trust to receive compensation for your damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.