Located in Pennsylvania and founded in 1950, Amatex Corporation specializes in fiberglass textiles for high-temperature applications. In the past, Amatex made asbestos-containing textiles and put workers at risk for developing mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis. Due to asbestos-related lawsuits, the company filed for bankruptcy and set up a trust that provided many claimants with compensatory damages.
The company that would become Amatex was founded in 1950. Called American Asbestos Textile Corporation, it had headquarters in Norristown, Pennsylvania. The headquarters are still located in this city.
In addition to facilities in Norristown, Amatex also operated a manufacturing facility in Meredith, New Hampshire. Amatex purchased a textile mill there from Keasbey & Mattison, another textile manufacturer, in 1962. Amatex made asbestos fabrics there until 1982, when it began bankruptcy proceedings.
Today, Amatex Corporation also has facilities in Laconia, New Hampshire. The company now manufactures textiles with fiberglass to withstand high temperatures. Products include vertex, aluminized fiberglass, specially coated thermoglass, metallic wire, and silica. The company also makes tapes, ropes, sleeves, and gaskets with these materials, all engineered for use in high-temperature environments.
How Did Amatex Use Asbestos?
For decades, asbestos was the material of choice for heat-resistant products; therefore, American Asbestos Textile Corporation utilized this material to manufacture their products. While the company no longer uses asbestos, the material was abundant, effective, and inexpensive in years past.
Asbestos is a mineral harvested through mining. Asbestos is naturally resistant to heat and fire, making it an ideal material for the types of products manufactured by Amatex.
Beginning in 1950 and continuing through 1982, Amatex made a variety of textiles woven with asbestos fibers. These products included cloths and fabrics that could be made into heat- and fire-resistant clothing and safety gear, cords and ropes, yarn, thread, wicks, tubing, and many other materials used in a variety of industries.
Who Was Exposed to Asbestos from Amatex?
Asbestos exposure is dangerous due to the fine, tiny fibers that can lodge in the tissues of the human body. Once lodged in those tissues, those asbestos fibers can remain there for decades. Asbestos fibers can cause serious cell damage, leading to dangerous and life-threatening diseases.
Not everyone exposed contracts these diseases; however, those who do may end up with progressive, painful, and deadly diseases like mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, or other types of cancer.
People exposed to asbestos can potentially inhale the fibers, which are tiny and light. These tiny fibers easily become airborne and often settle as dust on surfaces. Those who work around asbestos can inhale or consume the fibers. They are also at risk of transporting the fibers home on their clothing, putting their family members at risk of exposure.
Amatex factory workers were most at risk of asbestos exposure. These workers handled asbestos directly in the making of textiles. Even the workers who were in the facilities, who did not directly handle asbestos, could have been exposed.
Thousands of people employed by other companies in other industries may also have been exposed, especially companies that used Amatex products.
Have Workers Sued Amatex?
Asbestos-related illnesses often take years to develop. Because of this long latency period, Amatex did not begin to receive asbestos lawsuits in great quantities until the 1970s. By 1982, the lawsuits became so expensive the company had to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and reorganize.
The company only emerged from this reorganization in 1990. Overall, Amatex faced about 9,000 separate lawsuits from claimants demanding the company admit liability and provide compensatory damages.
One of these lawsuits came from a former shipyard worker, Ernest Cleveland. In his line of work, Cleveland used asbestos products originating from a number of companies, including Amatex. Shipbuilding is one of the industries that commonly used asbestos. The shipbuilding industry used asbestos in almost every component.
In 1982, Cleveland filed a lawsuit after developing asbestosis, a painful and progressive scarring of lung tissue caused by asbestos exposure. Amatex settled with Cleveland; however, other defendants refused to settle, and the case went to trial. Ultimately, Cleveland received $1.5 million in settlements.
Amatex Bankruptcy, Reorganization, and Asbestos Trust Fund
Many people exposed to asbestos in Amatex products filed lawsuits against the corporation. These people got sick from exposure, claiming Amatex was responsible for their mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other illnesses.
Facing numerous lawsuits and potential payouts, Amatex had no choice but to reorganize. The company began the process by filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1982. Amatex emerged from that reorganization in 1990 with an asbestos trust fund with $16 million.
The trust fund was a requirement of bankruptcy protection, ensuring current and future claimants could receive compensation from the company. The Amatex Asbestos Disease Trust Fund is currently inactive; therefore, if you believe you may have a claim against Amatex, you may not be able to file it. Consult with a mesothelioma lawyer to discuss your options where inactive trust funds may be involved.Get Your FREE Mesothelioma Packet
Page Edited by Patient Advocate Dave Foster
Dave has been a mesothelioma Patient Advocate for over 10 years. He consistently attends all major national and international mesothelioma meetings. In doing so, he is able to stay on top of the latest treatments, clinical trials, and research results. He also personally meets with mesothelioma patients and their families and connects them with the best medical specialists and legal representatives available.