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ABB Lummus Global, Inc.

Today known as just ABB Group, ABB Lummus Global was a large, international company manufacturing industrial equipment. Headquartered in Switzerland, the company sold Lummus Global, Inc. in 2007 to Chicago Bridge & Iron Company, also known as CB&I. With the sale, ABB Group focused its attention on automation technology, but its past as ABB Lummus Global was in the making of manufacturing and electrical equipment, some of which contained asbestos.

In 2006 the company was forced to file for bankruptcy because of the high number of asbestos related lawsuits against it. Workers for the company, but also workers in other industries and for other companies that used ABB products, sued the company over their exposure to asbestos. The ABB Lummus Global, Inc. Asbestos PI Trust was created at the time of bankruptcy to help pay the settlement and personal injury claims deemed valid.

Company History

The history of ABB goes all the way back to 1883 with the founding of a Swedish electrical company, known as ASEA. Also formed in the late 1800s was Boveri & Cie, or BBC, which was headquartered in Switzerland. The two companies merged in 1988 to form ABB. ASEA is most well-known for having manufactured high-capacity transformers, electrical systems, and AC cables, while BBC made steam turbines, locomotives, and switchgears.

As ABB, formed in 1988 from the merger of the two older companies, the new company was headquartered in Zurich in Switzerland. The company focused on manufacturing equipment and machinery for automation, especially for use in the petrochemical industry. Lummus Global was created in 1995 when ABB Global Engineering and ABB Lummus Crest merged into one unit. ABB sold Lummus Global to CB&I in 2007. At the time Lummus Global employed nearly 2,500 people and earned nearly $1 billion in yearly revenue.

In 2006, ABB Lummus Global, Inc. created its Asbestos PI Trust to help the company reorganize for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The reorganization came from financial debt and litigation related to asbestos exposure. The move was successful and the company survived to sell Lummus Global to CB&I the following year. The trust fund was set up to ensure settlements could be paid in spite of the reorganization.

Asbestos Use

For decades, the companies that would ultimately become ABB Group and ABB Lummus Global, Inc used asbestos in the manufacturing of equipment and parts. It was not uncommon at the time for asbestos to be used in an industrial setting or in the kinds of machinery that ABB made. Asbestos was long used in things like gaskets, valves, insulation, generators, and a number of other industrial machinery and parts. It was used because it could resist heat and fire. In an industrial setting, especially with a lot of heat and friction, asbestos was useful to insulate against heat and prevent fires.

Asbestos Exposure Caused by ABB Lummus Global

ABB has faced thousands of lawsuits over asbestos exposure because of its use of the material over the years. People who worked for ABB and its subsidiaries claimed that use of asbestos in manufacturing facilities harmed them. Exposure was not just an issue for ABB workers, though. There have also been plenty of people working for other companies, but using ABB products and machinery that contained asbestos.

Anyone who worked in ABB’s facilities and factories, including laborers, machinists, metal workers, engineers, and mechanics were all put at risk of asbestos exposure. Anyone who worked with or around ABB machinery in other settings may also have been exposed. The fibers of asbestos used in these products and processes were likely to have become airborne at some point and to have been inhaled by workers. Once in the tissues in and around the lungs, these fibers may have become lodged and may have caused the damage that ultimately would lead to diagnoses like lung cancer, asbestosis, and the life-threatening illness, mesothelioma.

Asbestos Lawsuits

Illnesses caused by asbestos exposure often take decades to develop and show the signs that will lead to a diagnosis. ABB began to get a flood of lawsuits related to these illnesses in the early 2000s, many years after the heavy use of asbestos. Two subsidiaries were hardest hit by these lawsuits: Lummus Global in the U.S. and Combustion Engineering Inc., also based in the U.S. The latter made boilers, which historically used a lot of asbestos.

Combustion Engineering faced over 100,000 asbestos-related claims from people who were exposed. That subsidiary settled for a total payout amount of $1.43 billion. ABB Lummus faced fewer lawsuits, but still had thousands of claimants demanding settlement money. The company paid out for these claimants as well but was also required to set up a trust fund as it reorganized through Chapter 11.

Asbestos Trust Fund

As the number of lawsuits piled up and Combustion Engineering and Lummus Global faced billions of dollars lost to these claims, ABB decided to turn to Chapter 11 bankruptcy and reorganization. Combustion Engineering filed for bankruptcy in 2005 and Lummus Global followed in 2006. Lummus Global was finally able to settle all its claims by September of 2006 and this allowed for its sale to CB&I.

As part of the reorganization and bankruptcy, ABB was required to set up an asbestos trust fund to cover current and future claims against Lummus Global and Combustion Engineering. Because Combustion Engineering had already settled most of its claims, the company only had to contribute $204 million for its future settlements through the trust fund. Lummus had fewer claims against it and ABB contributed a smaller amount to the trust fund to cover those and future claims.

The name of the trust fund is the ABB Lummus Global Inc. 524(g) Asbestos PI Trust. Anyone who still has an open claim against ABB and Lummus must go through this trust fund to request compensation. There is a procedure to follow that includes filling out forms and showing proof of exposure and illness. Although this does not involve filing a lawsuit, it is recommended that claimants work with an asbestos or mesothelioma lawyer to go through the process.

If you worked for ABB, Lummus Global, or Combustion Engineering, or you worked with any of the machinery that these companies and subsidiaries made, you may have been exposed to asbestos. You should be screened for asbestos-related illnesses and if you do get diagnosed, work with a lawyer to claim compensation through the trust fund.

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