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Cleveland-based Foseco is a manufacturing company that has been in business for over 75 years. Foseco developed and manufactured products for the foundry industry, an industry that produces metal castings. At one time, any industry that relied on extreme temperatures was likely to use asbestos. Foseco was no exception, using asbestos in a variety of products.
Workers who made Foseco products, as well as those who worked with them, were put at risk for asbestos exposure and resulting illnesses like mesothelioma and lung cancer. Eventually, thousands of affected workers sued Foseco, claiming the company did not warn or protect them from the risks of asbestos. Foseco survived the deluge of asbestos-related lawsuits and is still in operation today as the Vesuvius Corporation.
Foseco, short for Foundry Service Company, was founded in 1932 by Eric Weiss to serve the growing foundry industry. In the beginning, the company was small, operating out of a single room. However, it quickly expanded, offering new products and acquiring other companies.
Foseco, like similar manufacturing companies, used asbestos in many of its products. However, unlike other companies, Foseco was never forced into bankruptcy protection in spite of numerous asbestos-related lawsuits. In 2008, Foseco was bought by Cookson Group and is now a division of Vesuvius.
Asbestos Use by Foseco
Foundry work involves heating and manipulating metals and other substances, then casting those substances to make products. The industry uses extreme temperatures, requiring materials that can insulate and protect against fire. It also requires materials that will not break or deteriorate under intense heat.
These extreme conditions make asbestos a natural choice for the industry. Asbestos is a natural material with a variety of useful characteristics. It is abundant, inexpensive, and resists high temperatures. Asbestos also resists fire, chemical reactions, corrosion, and electricity. It is strong and can be added to materials to make them more durable. Most of these properties made asbestos an ideal ingredient in Foseco’s foundry products.
Foseco even patented a product that it manufactured, called a hot top. A hot top was a piece of metal used to help maintain the temperature of molten steel. It was also useful for capturing steel impurities as the metal cooled and solidified. Hot tops needed to withstand extreme heat, so Foseco crafted them with embedded asbestos.
In addition to hot tops, Foseco made a number of products with asbestos. These products included die castings, heat bricks, molding sand, furnace linings, and permanent mold coatings. The company also manufactured asbestos boards, compounds, and insulation, exothermic riser sleeves, and ladle liners.
Foseco used several factories to manufacture the products with asbestos, including one in Cleveland, where company headquarters were eventually located. One report indicates the Cleveland plant used over 18 million pounds of asbestos in the 1960s and 1970s. The patent for one of Foseco’s products, the hot top insulation, described nearly 5 percent each of amosite and chrysotile asbestos, much more than the acceptable limit eventually set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Because asbestos was used in such abundance, Foseco’s factory workers were regularly put at risk of exposure and resulting sickness. Factory workers mixed asbestos into materials, risking inhaling the created asbestos dust. Inhaling microscopic asbestos fibers leads to tissue damage in the lungs and other parts of the body, ultimately causing asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer.
Foundry workers who used Foseco products were also put at serious risk of exposure and illness. A common way workers were exposed through Foseco products was in the use of their hot tops. These plates, used in steel foundries, often had to be replaced. Workers later reported they often tore out and replaced asbestos boards during this process. This action produced a lot of dust that coated them and other workers in the hot top area.
Asbestos Lawsuits against Foseco
Foseco has been the defendant in numerous lawsuits over asbestos exposure and illness. In 1964, the North American Asbestos Corporation warned Foseco that asbestos was harmful to worker health and could even cause lung cancer. This evidence has been important in lawsuits, proving the company knew the risks of using asbestos but failed to warn workers or protect them from harm.
Despite of the thousands of asbestos lawsuits Foseco faced, the company managed to survive without needing bankruptcy protection. Foseco also did not have to establish an asbestos trust fund to compensate victims and cover future claims. Anyone with a claim against the company must take legal action to seek compensation.
Foseco’s failure to protect workers left it vulnerable to litigation from those impacted by asbestos exposure. If you are sick because of asbestos exposure and believe your exposure originated with Foseco products, you can file a lawsuit to seek damages and justice. Let an experienced mesothelioma lawyer help you make your case and get the compensation you deserve.
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.