Foseco is a Cleveland-based manufacturing company that has been in business for over 75 years, developing and making products and solutions for the foundry industry. Any industry that relied on such extreme temperatures such as metal casting was likely to have used asbestos at some point in time, and Foseco was no exception. It used asbestos in a variety of products, including those it had patented.
Workers that made these products and those in the foundry industry that worked with Foseco products were put at risk for asbestos exposure and illnesses like mesothelioma and lung cancer. Thousands of affected workers filed lawsuits against Foseco, who they claimed knew about the risks and did not warn or protect them. In spite of the numerous lawsuits, Foseco was never forced into bankruptcy and today is still operating under the Vesuvius Corporation.
The history of Foseco dates back to its founding in Birmingham, Alabama by Eric Weiss in 1932. He had the idea to serve the growing foundry industry and his instincts were good. The company was successful early on. He chose the name Foseco because it represented that it would be a Foundry Service Company. The company was very small to begin with, just one room, but grew quickly and expanded as it offered new products and acquired other companies.
Foseco, like similar companies in the manufacturing and foundry industry, used asbestos in many of its products over the years. Unlike other companies, Foseco was never forced into a position of needing bankruptcy protection. The company has faced, and will likely continue to face, asbestos lawsuits, but they did not overwhelm the company. 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, and then casting those substances to make products. It is an industry that uses a lot of heat and that requires materials that can contain the heat, insulate, and protect against fire. It also needs materials that will not break or deteriorate quickly under the intense heat.
This is where asbestos comes in handy. Asbestos is a natural material with a variety of useful qualities. It is abundant and inexpensive and can resist and insulate against 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 idea substance to be incorporated into the kinds of foundry products that Foseco made.
Foseco even patented a product that it manufactured, called a hot top, which contained a lot of asbestos. A hot top was a piece of metal used to help maintain the temperature of molten steel and to capture impurities from the steel as it cooled and solidified. The hot tops needed to be able to withstand extreme heat and still function, and so Foseco crafted them with embedded asbestos.
In addition to the hot tops, Foseco made a number of products with asbestos. These include die castings, heat bricks, molding sand, furnace linings, permanent mold coatings, asbestos boards, compounds, and insulation, exothermic riser sleeves, and ladle liners, among many others.
Foseco made a lot of products with asbestos and did so in a number of manufacturing facilities. One of these was in Cleveland, where the company headquarters were eventually located. One report shows that 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, shows that it included nearly five percent each of amosite and chrysotile asbestos, much more than the acceptable limit eventually set by the environmental protection agency.
All this use of asbestos meant that Foseco’s factory workers were put at risk regularly of being exposed to asbestos and of becoming sick as a result. These workers had to mix the asbestos into materials and risked creating dust that they would inhale. Inhaling the fibers of asbestos leads to tissue damage in the lungs and other parts of the body that can ultimately cause asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer.
Workers in foundries that used Foseco products were also put at serious risk of exposure and illness. One example of a common way that workers were exposed to asbestos through Foseco products was in the use of hot tops. These plates that were used in steel foundries had to be replaced often and workers later reported that they often tore out and replaced asbestos boards during this process and that the 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 because of its extensive use of the mineral in its products. There is evidence that in 1964, Foseco received a communication from the North American Asbestos Corporation warning that asbestos was harmful to worker health and could even cause lung cancer in workers. This piece of evidence has been important in lawsuits, showing that the company knew the risks of using asbestos but failed to pass that warning on to workers or to protect them from harm.
In spite of the thousands of asbestos lawsuits that Foseco has faced, mostly from former employees and their families, the company managed to survive without needing to reorganize under bankruptcy protection. It also never had to create an asbestos trust fund to compensate victims or to cover future claims. Anyone with a claim against the company must take legal action in order to seek compensation.
Foseco’s irresponsible actions with asbestos and failure to protect workers left it vulnerable to litigation and liability over the many people made sick and otherwise impacted by asbestos exposure. If you are sick because of asbestos exposure and you believe your exposure originated with Foseco products, either as an employee or a worker in a facility that used Foseco products, you can file a lawsuit to seek damages and justice. Let an experienced mesothelioma lawyer help you make your case and get that compensation.
Page edited by Dave Foster
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