In the early 1960s, Pittsburgh Corning purchased the Unibestos product line from UNARCO Industries, Inc. These products contained high amounts of lethal asbestos that were made from amosite asbestos brought into the US from South Africa.
The natural asbestos was broken down into fibers in the South African mines. Then they were shipped to UNARCO plants for additional fiberizing and bonding with various fillers. (Asbestos.com)
Two Pittsburgh Corning Plants Had High Risk of Asbestos Exposure
From 1964-1971, Pittsburgh Corning had an industrial hygiene engineering expert evaluate plant conditions in Tyler, Texas, and Port Allegany, Pennsylvania. Consultant Morton Corn determined that both plants posed a high risk of asbestos exposure to workers.
He recommended several engineering control actions to reduce asbestos exposure risk. But many of his recommendations were rejected by company executives. By 1972, Pittsburgh Corning stopped production and distribution of the hazardous insulation. It also demolished and buried all equipment from the Texas plant. But it was too late; many Pittsburgh Corning workers were exposed to asbestos.
After thousands of personal injury lawsuits were filed against the company, Pittsburgh Corning filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2000. As part of the bankruptcy plan, the company established the Pittsburgh Corning Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust.
Overview of The Pittsburgh Corning Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust (PCC)
The PCC (Pccasbestostrust.com) was initially funded with $3.4 billion in 2013 to pay for claims made against the company for asbestos-related diseases. The trust began to accept claims from injured workers in March 2017.
Below are the amounts typically paid out of the trust for different diseases:
|Disease Level||Schedule Value||Average Value||Maximum Value|
|Lung Cancer 1||$47,500||$50,000||$100,000|
|Lung Cancer 2||None||$20,000||$50,000|
|Asbestosis/Pleural Disease 2||$5,500||$6,000||$10,000|
|Other Asbestos Disease||$400||None||None|
Asbestos Lawsuits Involving Pittsburgh Corning
There have been hundreds of personal injury lawsuits filed against Pittsburgh Corning over the years. The most well-known asbestos lawsuit against the company occurred in 1997 when 450 former workers from the Tyler, Texas, plant filed a class-action lawsuit. That claim was settled for $20 million. In that settlement:
- Pittsburgh Corning was ordered to pay $8 million
- UNARCO was ordered to pay $1 million
- Cape Industries (suppliers of the asbestos) paid $5.2 million
- The federal government (a major purchaser of Unibestos) paid $5.7 million
During the trial, the chief scientist for Cape Industries named Richard Gaze, Ph.D., testified that he worked with Pittsburgh Corning in 1961 and advised them about the manufacturing process and needed health measures needed to protect employees from asbestos exposure.
He also said that he worked with the company for the next 10 years, urging them to take safety precautions with asbestos.
Other asbestos lawsuits involving Pittsburgh Corning include:
- David Simpson was employed on a steam piping system using the company’s Unibestos. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma, and he passed away in 1988. His wife received $2.5 million from the company and several other asbestos manufacturers.
- Robert Dunham was employed by the Pittsburgh-Corning Company from 1955 through 1968 as a chemical operator. He was frequently exposed to asbestos in insulation and other products. He developed asbestos-related lung cancer and passed away in 1997. His widow won $19 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
Pittsburgh Corning Products That Endangered Worker Health
Unibestos was the major product that exposed thousands of workers to hazardous asbestos. The product was used as pipe insulation for many residential and commercial construction purposes. Plant workers who made Unibestos were at the most risk, but any job that required handling, application, or removal of the product was hazardous.
The dangerous insulation had to be removed and reinstalled every time any repairs were made to components that were coated in it. Handling asbestos insulation often would cause large amounts of airborne asbestos to be swallowed or inhaled by workers.
Other hazardous products in the Unibestos line included:
- Finishes and cement
- Mesh metal blankets that covered asbestos insulation
- Asbestos gaskets and packing
- Various asbestos textiles
The dangerous mineral was imported from South Africa in gunny sacks that included no warnings about the grave dangers of asbestos exposure. Plant workers frequently removed asbestos from the gunny sacks with their bare hands. They did wear respirators, but they soon became clogged with asbestos dust.
Pittsburgh Corning’s asbestos-containing products endangered and killed thousands of workers. Claims against the company continue to this day. (Post-Gazette.com)
If you or a loved one got mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease from a Pittsburgh Corning product, it is important to speak with a mesothelioma lawyer as soon as you can.
Your attorney can determine if you could be eligible for mesothelioma compensation. If so, you can file a claim with the PCC to receive compensation for your damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.