The Aurora Pump Company manufactured and sold industrial pumps for decades and is a brand of Pentair products today. Aurora pumps contained asbestos in the past. Although the pumps no longer contain asbestos, many workers suffered past exposure and now have asbestos-related illnesses.
History of Aurora Pump Company and Asbestos
Founders Louis Bodinson, William Todd, and Emil Shopback began Aurora Pump and Manufacturing Company in Aurora, Illinois, in 1919.
Initially, they manufactured deep-well turbine pumps. The company soon went bankrupt but reorganized in 1927. It then began producing turbine pumps, which contained asbestos until 1985.
The company was sold to Wesco Pump Company in 1937 after a rough few years during the Great Depression.
The company thrived during World War II, supplying the military with pumps. For the quality of their products, Aurora earned a prestigious civilian honor, the Army-Navy “E” award.
New York Air Brake purchased the company in 1952. During this time, Aurora began developing new types of pumps and diversified its product line. This included chemical pumps.
It sold again in the 1960s to General Signal Company and then sold to Pentair Pump Group in 1997, where it is a brand and product line today.
How Did Aurora Use Asbestos?
Aurora Pump Company began using asbestos in the 1920s and continued for decades. Pumps are used to move fluids from one location to another. They require gaskets and packing to seal connections and prevent leaks.
For many years, gaskets and packing made by many companies, not just Aurora, contained asbestos. They used asbestos because it was inexpensive, lightweight, flexible, and added heat resistance, fireproofing, and strength to materials.
Asbestos was abundant at the time, and many companies used it for similar purposes, even when some knew the truth about its risks.
Aurora didn’t stop using asbestos in its pumps until 1985. It is safe to assume that all pumps and other products made by the company until that time contained asbestos. This includes:
- Turbine pumps
- Condensate pumps
- Sewage pumps
- Split case pumps
- Sump pumps
- Fire pumps
- Vertical inline pumps
- End suction pumps
- Condensate systems
- Boiler feed systems
Who Did Aurora Put at Risk for Asbestos Exposure?
By using asbestos in pump components for nearly 60 years, Aurora put thousands of workers at risk. Anyone who made the pumps on Aurora’s staff could have inhaled the fibers.
The exposure extends well beyond the company, including anyone in other industries who worked with or around Aurora pumps.
Workers on ships and in the U.S. Navy faced a particular risk of exposure to asbestos from Aurora pumps. They worked in close quarters in pump rooms with limited air circulation. If the asbestos came loose from any gaskets, the fibers could permeate the air and be inhaled.
Other workers at risk for exposure to Aurora asbestos include:
- HVAC workers
- Oil refinery workers
- Shipyard workers
- Boiler workers
- Merchant mariners
- U.S. Navy veterans
Anyone who repaired, installed, or maintained the pumps risked disrupting the asbestos components and inhaling the fibers.
Asbestos Lawsuits Against Aurora
After decades of exposing workers in a variety of industries, Aurora began facing lawsuits over mesothelioma and other types of cancer:
- Perry Wilson Adams received a diagnosis of mesothelioma in 2010 and died in 2012. His widow and estate sued several companies for asbestos exposure, including Aurora Pump Company. Adams worked in a paper mill from the 1960s through 1985, where he came in contact with many asbestos materials, including pumps and gaskets. The jury awarded damages amounting to nearly $5 million, divided between the various defendants.
- James Morgan and his wife Kay brought a lawsuit against Aurora and others after he developed mesothelioma. He worked at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, where he encountered asbestos that contributed to his cancer. Morgan died in 2008, but his widow continued the case. The defendants tried to get a summary judgment, but the court denied it based on the testimony of Morgan’s co-workers and medical experts. The companies could not get out of being sued for asbestos exposure, the judge found.
- In 2019, Aurora once again tried for a summary judgment, a move denied by a New York judge. The lawsuit was filed by Cenzia Gomez after her husband died from lung cancer. He served in the U.S. Coast Guard and later worked in ship repair. He repaired Aurora pumps, which, Gomez alleged, exposed him to asbestos and caused his illness and death.
- Christine and Carl Biehl filed a lung cancer lawsuit against Aurora and a few other companies in 2018. They alleged that Christine’s lung cancer developed as a result of asbestos exposure from the many products she and her husband both worked with during their careers.
- Patrick DeMartino developed mesothelioma after a career working with Aurora pumps. He worked in maintenance at Walker-Prismatic in Manhattan for more than a decade. He alleges that working with and maintaining the pumps led to his exposure and illness. Aurora sought a summary judgment in the case, but the judge allowed the suit to continue to the discovery period.
- In addition to mesothelioma and lung cancer, asbestos exposure is known to cause or contribute to other types of cancer. In 2017, Reuben and Dolores Fitzgerald filed a lawsuit against Aurora and other companies for past asbestos exposure. Reuben developed colon cancer and alleged that asbestos triggered it. He worked with Aurora pumps and other asbestos products throughout his career.
Despite the many lawsuits Aurora faced and parent company Pentair still faces, the company never filed for bankruptcy. It never set up an asbestos trust to compensate victims.
What if I Was Exposed to Asbestos from Aurora Pumps?
It can be tricky to figure out where you suffered asbestos exposure, and, if you did, which companies could be considered negligent. If you suspect or know you worked with asbestos, talk to your doctor about it as soon as possible, even if you don’t have symptoms.
You can also work with an asbestos lawyer or law firm to find out your legal options. A lawyer can research your exposure and work history to determine if Aurora could be a negligent party.
Aurora and other companies negligently exposed thousands of people to harmful asbestos. They must be held accountable. To do that successfully, you need a lawyer specializing in these kinds of cases. They have the resources and experience to get you the best results.Get Your FREE Mesothelioma Packet
Page Written by Mary Ellen Ellis
Mary Ellen Ellis has been the head writer for Mesothelioma.net since 2016. With hundreds of mesothelioma and asbestos articles to her credit, she is one of the most experienced writers on these topics. Her degrees and background in science and education help her explain complicated medical topics for a wider audience. Mary Ellen takes pride in providing her readers with the critical information they need following a diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness.
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.