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The E.J. Bartells Company manufactured and sold asbestos insulation and refractory products for decades. The asbestos in its products put workers at risk of exposure. After facing many lawsuits over asbestos illnesses, like mesothelioma, E.J. Bartells filed for bankruptcy and started a trust to compensate victims.
The E.J. Bartells Company History and Asbestos
The E.J. Bartells Company was founded by Edwin J. Bartells in 1923. The company offered a variety of industrial and mechanical insulation products.
- Initially located in Washington, the company expanded to cover much of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.
- While it began as an insulation company, E.J. Bartells also offered refractory fireproofing materials, HVAC products, and fabrication services. Many of the materials and products the company sold included asbestos as a vital component.
- E.J. Bartells also distributed many products from well-known asbestos companies, like Johns Manville and EaglePicher. It didn’t stop using asbestos until the 1970s.
- E.J. Bartells supplied insulation, refractory products, and specialty products and services to multiple industries until the early 2000s: construction, government, healthcare, marine, industrial, manufacturing, mining, oil and gas, and more
- In 2000, E.J. Bartells filed for bankruptcy. As part of the reorganization, it created an asbestos trust fund to compensate victims of asbestos illnesses.
Distribution International acquired E.J. Bartells in 2015. TopBuild, which distributes and installs specialty insulation, acquired Distribution International in 2021.
How Did E.J. Bartells Use Asbestos?
Heavy use of asbestos dominated the insulation industry for decades, approximately from the 1940s through the 1970s. As an insulation manufacturer, E.J. Bartells used asbestos in many, if not all, of its products for that period.
Asbestos is a harmful material, but it also provides excellent insulating properties. It resists fire, electricity, and chemical reactions, adds strength, and is flexible and lightweight. All of this made it perfect for insulation and similar products.
E.J. Bartells Products That Contained Asbestos
E.J. Bartells used asbestos in all types of insulation that mostly went into industrial and commercial buildings and equipment. They also made refractory materials for fireproofing. The company’s other products with asbestos included:
- Pipe covering
- Duct connectors
- Expansion joints
Who Was at Risk of Asbestos Exposure from E.J. Bartells?
It can be difficult to know where and when you experienced asbestos exposure in the past. Anyone who worked around or with E.J. Bartells products during the asbestos period could have been exposed.
Workers who suffered exposure because of E.J. Bartells include their own employees and those who worked elsewhere with their products:
- Construction workers
- Demolition workers
- Insulation installers
- Shipyard workers
- Demolition workers
- Maintenance workers
Asbestos Lawsuits Against E.J. Bartells
Because of the asbestos in their products, numerous people filed lawsuits against E.J. Bartells. This includes employees of the company who played a role in manufacturing the products as well as other workers using their products while employed elsewhere.
- David Niven developed asbestosis and lung cancer after working as an insulator since the 1950s. His career coincided with peak asbestos use. He and his wife sued several companies liable for his exposure, including E.J. Bartells. One defendant tried to get the case dismissed, but it was allowed to go through on appeal. Niven settled with some of the defendants.
- In Gilliland v. E.J. Bartells Co., Dorela Gilliland sued the company and others over the wrongful death of her husband. Darol Gilliland died from asbestosis in 1981 after working for E.J. Bartells. Mrs. Gilliland received monthly payments of $750 beginning in 1985 and ending in 2005. That amount increased by 3% each year.
- Marlene Purcell filed suit against E.J. Bartells and other companies in 1993 after her husband died from pleural mesothelioma. He had several positions throughout his career as a machinist and electrician. The case alleged that E.J. Bartells made and distributed many of the asbestos products he encountered in these jobs. The jury awarded Mrs. Purcell nearly $5 million from multiple defendants.
Bankruptcy and Asbestos Trust Fund
After facing years of lawsuits and settlement requests, E.J. Bartells filed for bankruptcy in 2000. As part of the reorganization plan, the company set up a trust fund to compensate asbestos victims filing claims. The trust was set up in 2001 with $20 million. It paid 15 claims by 2008.
What to Do if You Were Exposed to E.J. Bartells Asbestos Products
Contact an asbestos lawyer if you know or suspect you worked with or around E.J. Bartells products during your career. You may be eligible for a claim through the trust.
Because it’s common for many companies to be involved, you may also be able to sue other companies for compensation. A lawyer can investigate your exposure and advise you on your options.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.