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11Pittsburgh Corning Asbestos Trust

Pittsburgh Corning Asbestos Trust & Exposure

Company History

Pittsburgh Corning Asbestos Trust

The Pittsburgh Corning Asbestos Trust was established to help victims of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma obtain compensation. Pittsburgh Corning was founded in 1937 following a merger of two established glass making companies, Corning Glass Works and Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company. Up until 1947, the newly established Pittsburgh Corning specialized in the production of glass blocks which were sold for installation in residential, industrial and commercial structures.

In 1947 Pittsburgh Corning shifted focus to the production of FOAMGLAS; a type of insulation primarily used in construction. Unlike the majority of its counterparts at the time, FOAMGLAS did not contain asbestos.

In 1962 Pittsburgh Corning entered into a new purchase agreement with a company named UNARCO Industries. The agreement gave access to a new line of insulation products which contained Amosite asbestos, a form of asbestos imported from South Africa. The purchase agreement gave Pittsburgh Corning ownership to the manufacturing plants, production formula, product types, materials, name (Unibestos) and customer lists.

The newly mined natural asbestos was partly broken down into fiber form at the mines. This form arrived at the manufacturing plants in an especially harmful form. When workers handled the newly arrived asbestos fibers easily became airborne. Upon arrival, the asbestos continued to be fiberized and then bound to nonorganic binders and fillers.

Unibestos was manufactured first in a plant in Tyler, Texas and then production was expanded to Port Alleghany, Pennsylvania.

From 1964-1971 an engineering consultant was hired to monitor conditions at both plants. The consultant alerted the corporation to dangerously high risks of asbestos exposure and made many recommendations to reduce these risks. Unfortunately, these recommendations were largely ignored.

A mesothelioma lawyer at Goldberg, Persky & White P.C. can help you or a loved one with obtaining compensation from the Pittsburgh Corning asbestos trust.

Products That Contained Asbestos

This period had proved to be a big-time of industrial growth. With such growth comes the need of strong products for various industries – which is why asbestos sparked the interest in many manufactures. While Asbestos is flexible and easy to work with, it was particularly attractive because of its resistance to both heat and flame, and it is reluctant to conduct electricity. Asbestos was, for all these reasons, a builder’s and manufacturer’s dream come true. However, as the quote goes, “one man’s treasure is another man’s trash”. It was not long until the mineral would soon be recognized to be a nightmare as many people were diagnosed with asbestos lung cancers and mesotheliomas because they were exposed to its deadly fibers.

The Unibestos products that contained asbestos included:

  • Asbestos molded sheet and block insulation
  • Asbestos packing and gaskets
  • Asbestos textiles
  • Blocks of cement and finishes
  • Metal mesh blankets to fit insulation
  • Pipe coverings
  • Pipe insulation for high temperatures

The products listed above were then distributed to various industries, including:

  • chemical plants
  • oil refineries
  • powerhouses
  • steel mills

Occupations that Likely Faced Exposure to Asbestos

It was not until 1972 that Pittsburgh Corning stopped the distribution and production of Unibestos products. However, exposure had widely swept through both Pittsburgh Corning employees and workers in the industries who had received the Unibestos products. Unfortunately, even workers from outside industries were also at risk of exposure.

Occupations likely exposed to asbestos include:

  • Construction workers
  • Factory workers
  • Field service technicians
  • Heavy machine operators
  • Insulation workers
  • Machinists
  • Maintenance workers
  • Pipefitters
  • Plumbers
  • Refinery specialists
  • Repair workers

Families of employees were also at risk of secondary exposure.  Asbestos fibers or dust could enter homes from the clothing, hair, or skin of workers.

Asbestos Litigation Against Pittsburgh Corning

Pittsburgh Corning was faced with a rapidly increasing number of claims for asbestos by 1977. In fact, the most notable asbestos-related litigation involving Pittsburgh Corning occurred that year as 447 former employees of the Tyler plant became ill with asbestos-related diseases and filed a class action suit. By that time, it was estimated that between 25 and 40 former employees had already died of asbestos diseases. The lawsuit eventually involved more than 2,000 plaintiffs and was later settled for $20 million.

The settlement was broken down and divided as such…

  • Pittsburgh Corning was required to pay $8.1 million
  • UNARCO was required to pay $1 million
  • Cape Industries (whom were the asbestos suppliers) was required to pay $5.2 million
  • The U.S. government (whom was a large purchaser of Unibestos) was required to pay $5.7 million

Four years following, the court documents revealed that the company had 15,000 to 20,000 open and pending claims against it. This quickly rose to more than 75,000 claims by 1985.

Adella Cimino brought another extremely notable lawsuit against Pittsburgh Corning, as well as other asbestos companies. This lawsuit was brought on behalf of 2,288 factory workers in southeastern Texas who developed asbestos diseases between 1985 and 1987. The class action lawsuit was filed in 1990 and was one of the longest civil lawsuits in history. In fact, the final settlement was not reached until 2018. The lawsuit has progressed in a number of stages, with various appeals along the way. In the end, the victims were awarded a total of $140 million, along with an earlier verdict of $38 million in Cimino’s case against Raymark Industries.

In recent years, Pittsburgh Corning and its parent companies have continued to spend billions of dollars on similar claims to compensate their victims.

The Pittsburgh Corning Asbestos Trust Fund

On April 16, 2000 Pittsburgh Corning filed for bankruptcy of Chapter 11 after experiencing an increase in the costs of asbestos litigation. The company was faced with 235,000 pending lawsuits at the time of filing. Prior to the declaration of bankruptcy, there were approximately 400,000 lawsuits against the company. Prior to filing for bankruptcy, the company was able to settle half of those claims for $1.2 billion.

Pittsburgh Corning ‘s owners, PPG and Corning Glass Works all contributed to an asbestos trust fund to fund the ongoing litigation and growing number of claims. Although the court rejected the company’s first plan in 2006, the trust fund and the bankruptcy plan were finally approved in 2013. Initially, the trust was funded with approximately $3.41 billion.

To this day the fund continues to accept claims in order to compensate their victims. The amount awarded to victims of asbestos may vary based on a number of factors, despite the current payment percentage estimated at around 30.1%. Claimants may receive more than baseline values depending on various factors, including diagnosis, age, history of exposure and the law firm’s settlement history.

Unfortunately, the asbestos-containing products used by Pittsburgh Corning have endangered and killed thousands of workers. To date, claims against the company have continued. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related illness caused by a Pittsburgh Corning product or from working within the company, it is important to speak to a mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney at Goldberg, Persky & White P.C. can help to determine whether a victim is eligible for mesothelioma compensation. If eligible, victims may file a claim to receive compensation for their damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

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