Created in 1916, EaglePicher Industries, Inc. included lead mining, paint manufacturing, and eventually asbestos-containing products. Many EaglePicher asbestos victims were veterans because of the products the company made for the military. In 2006, after many asbestos-related lawsuits, the company emerged from bankruptcy as EaglePicher Technologies and with a trust fund to compensate victims.
EaglePicher Technologies began with a simple merger of two separate companies. The first company was Eagle White Lead which manufactured lead-based paint. The second was the Picher Lead Company, owned by Oliver Picher. The new company was named EaglePicher.
After the merger, EaglePicher expanded beyond lead and paint to begin manufacturing batteries. Since batteries require metals, the mining business was quite useful. The United States military purchased batteries manufactured by EaglePicher during World War II and long afterward.
EaglePicher also made and sold other products, like insulation and cement, many of which contained asbestos. The military also purchased these products. Exposure to asbestos from these products led to later lawsuits.
In the 1970s, EaglePicher discontinued the use of asbestos in its products. This was the time period when federal regulations cracked down on this hazardous material; however, the damage was already done.
By 1991, the company filed for bankruptcy. It reorganized and emerged in 1996 with a personal injury trust established to pay asbestos victims.
However, this was not the end of EaglePicher’s asbestos woes. More hard times led to another round of bankruptcy protection and reorganization in 2005. The renamed EaglePicher Technologies, LLC emerged in 2006. The trust is still active and accepting claims.
EaglePicher focused on batteries and other energy and power technology but also made and sold different products. For decades, the company’s insulation and cement included dangerous asbestos.
Asbestos, a natural mineral with unique properties, was a desirable additive for many products, especially construction materials. This common mineral was a major component in many insulation products.
It also added strength and as a lightweight binder, which was useful in cement. Many of EaglePicher’s asbestos claims resulted from a sealant used in shipyards.
EaglePicher Asbestos Exposure
Anyone who worked directly with, or even near, EaglePicher products made with asbestos risked exposure to the mineral. Because asbestos is a fibrous material, microscopic fibers can easily break loose to float as dust in the air or accumulating on surfaces.
Without adequate protection, people may inhale or ingest fibers, becoming sick as a result. Asbestos exposure is known to cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.
EaglePicher’s workers may have been exposed through these cements and insulation. If employees worked directly with asbestos or worked where fibers were in the air, they may have been exposed to airborne asbestos fibers.
Workers who used EaglePicher products in other industries were also exposed. Construction workers, insulators, drywall installers, painters, and anyone else who worked near the installation, repair, or replacement of cement or insulation could have experienced exposure.
U.S. Navy veterans are a special subset of workers exposed by EaglePicher products. Navy ships used these asbestos-containing products extensively.
These products often contained asbestos because it is an effective insulator. It also prevents the spread of fire and adds strength without extra weight. Many men and women in the Navy were exposed to asbestos and later developed lung cancer or mesothelioma.
Although EaglePicher stopped using asbestos in the 1970s, asbestos-related illnesses take decades to manifest. The company was first sued over asbestos exposure in the 1970s.
A Navy sheet metal worker was one of the first to sue the company. This sheet metal worker worked in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard from the 1940s through the 1970s. He was exposed to asbestos insulation during his employment.
In 1979, he filed an asbestos lawsuit targeting several manufacturers, including EaglePicher. He died from mesothelioma before the case was complete; however, in 1984, his widow won a settlement on his behalf.
EaglePicher faced thousands of lawsuits related to asbestos illnesses. These lawsuits total more than $2 billion demanded by victims. The financial burden created by these expensive settlements led to bankruptcy and reorganization in 1991 and 2006.
EaglePicher Asbestos Trust Fund
EaglePicher’s first bankruptcy led to the company’s reorganization and emergence in 1996. The reorganized company set up a trust fund to compensate victims of asbestos exposure. The EaglePicher Industries Personal Injury Settlement Trust included $730 million in funds. By 2008, the trust had paid out $525 million in claims.
EaglePicher’s troubles were not over in 1996. The company continued to struggle, creating hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. Again, the company sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In 2006, the company reorganized, emerging as EaglePicher Technologies, LLC. The trust fund is still active and accepting claims.
If you believe your asbestos-related illness can, at least in part, be traced to products made by EaglePicher, you can file a claim with this trust fund. The process can be complicated and may require proof of illness and symptoms.
You may also be required to prove you were exposed to asbestos through EaglePicher products, as well as evidence that this exposure caused your condition. You can rely on a lawyer experienced in asbestos claims to help maximize your chances of a successful claim.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.