Burnham Commercial, owned by Burnham Holdings, made asbestos-containing boilers for decades. Many workers who installed, repaired, or removed these boilers suffered asbestos exposure. Those who later became ill with asbestos illnesses have a right to sue the company for compensation.
About Burnham Holdings and Burnham Commercial
Burnham Commercial is a subsidiary of Burnham Holdings and makes commercial boilers. The company’s history dates back to the 1800s with the founding of Lord’s Horticultural Manufacturing Company, later called Lord & Burnham Company.
The original company made and sold greenhouses in New York. Eventually, consumers requested a better way to heat and adjust the temperature in greenhouses. In response, Lord & Burnham began making boilers.
Through mergers and acquisitions, the company became the Burnham Boiler Company in 1919. After several changes, the eventual name of the company was Burnham Holdings. Burnham Commercial remains the subsidiary that makes commercial and industrial boilers.
Asbestos Use at Burnham
Boilers need good insulation to keep the heat in, help them run efficiently, and protect workers and others from the high temperatures used to heat water. For decades Burnham used asbestos insulation in its boilers.
The company manufactured boilers with asbestos in many components: the boiler walls, internal pipes, gaskets, and insulation. Burnham also made fire-resistant bricks, known as refractory bricks, using asbestos.
Burnham’s Boilers and Asbestos Exposure
Burnham used asbestos in its boilers and components for several decades, into the 1980s. Many types of commercial and industrial facilities installed the boilers, putting all kinds of workers at risk. They also went into ships.
Any workers who handled these boilers could have been exposed to asbestos. These include installers, repairers and maintenance workers, pipefitters, steamfitters, HVAC technicians, brick masons, plumbers, and ship workers. Anyone who worked near the boilers could also have been exposed.
Removing old boilers tends to damage asbestos insulation and stir up the fibers that then pollute the air. For this reason, those workers who faced the greatest risk of inhaling harmful asbestos fibers worked in demolition.
Asbestos Lawsuits Against Burnham
Unlike many other companies that exposed workers to asbestos, Burnham never filed for bankruptcy. There is no asbestos trust for filing claims, but many workers have sued the company for damages:
- Frank Gondar worked as a contractor in his spare time throughout his career as a police officer and teacher. From 1953 to 1973, he encountered Burnham boilers and other asbestos-containing construction products doing this work. He inhaled asbestos fibers as he and other workers removed old boilers. Gondar died from mesothelioma not long after a jury awarded him $22 million. A judge then reduced the amount to $7 million.
- Charles Hillyer, and his family after he passed away from mesothelioma, sued Burnham and other companies. The jury in New York City awarded Hillyer $20 million. Hillyer served in the navy and worked as a steamfitter and pipefitter on ships that used a lot of asbestos, including in Burnham boilers. A judge reduced Burnham’s portion of the verdict, $6 million, to just $2 million, citing an unreasonable amount as awarded by the jury.
- Benjamin Fischer and his wife filed a lawsuit against Burnham and others over his mesothelioma. He died in 2017 from the disease, and Mrs. Fischer carried on with the lawsuit. One of the sources of asbestos the Fischers cited as responsible for his illness was the family’s Lord & Burnham green house and boiler. Unfortunately, the case went in favor of Burnham as evidence was limited.
- Pietro Macaluso worked in demolition in New York in the 1970s and 1980s. Part of his job involved tearing out boilers, many of which were Burnham models with asbestos. He later developed mesothelioma and died from the illness. A jury awarded his family $60 million, part of which was to be paid by Burnham.
Burnham has had some successes defending against claims like these. It has also been forced to pay settlements and verdicts to victims. The company expects to continue working to settle or litigate asbestos lawsuits as past workers develop related illnesses.
Contact an asbestos lawyer if you suffered from asbestos exposure and know or suspect you worked with Burnham boilers. They can track down where you encountered asbestos and the companies responsible. If Burnham played a role in your illness, a lawyer can help you take action and seek compensation.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.