Garlock Sealing Technologies, a subsidiary of EnPro Industries, once used asbestos in manufacturing gaskets. Exposure and asbestos-related illnesses eventually led to lawsuits against the company and bankruptcy. The company survived and established a trust fund to compensate victims.
About Garlock Today
A modern, multinational company, Garlock has nearly 2,000 employees. The company manufactures pipeline solutions and fluid sealing materials.
Garlock also produces products for the oil, mining, chemical processing, construction, and pharmaceutical industries, all of which need high-performance seals.
Garlock History and Asbestos
In 1887, Olin J. Garlock invented an improved sealing system for steam engine pistons. Garlock established his business in Palmyra, New York. The company originally worked with locomotive steam engines, but the technology was eventually applied to other industries.
- Over time, Garlock added to its sealing product lineup with gaskets, valves, pump diaphragms, expansion joints, compression packing, and other products.
- During World War II, the U.S. Navy relied heavily on Garlock products. The gaskets, sealing, and packing materials helped insulate pipes and equipment on navy ships.
- Following the war, Garlock grew as it acquired other companies. In 1976, Garlock was acquired by Colt Industries, which made firearms.
- Unfortunately, Garlock used asbestos in many of its products from 1907 through 1980. One of Garlock’s acquisitions, Anchor Packing Company, added to its asbestos liabilities.
EnPro Industries acquired Garlock in 2003. The liability caused by asbestos use would eventually lead the company to bankruptcy and reorganization. Unlike some asbestos-related companies, Garlock reorganized and continues to operate as a successful industry leader.
Garlock Asbestos Products
Asbestos was used in many different industries for decades. Finally, in the 1970s, the federal government restricted its use because its fibers were linked to illnesses like mesothelioma and asbestosis.
Asbestos has many natural properties that make it useful for sealing materials, gaskets, valves, and similar products. It is pliable, strong, and lightweight. Asbestos also resists heat, fire, electricity, and many chemical reactions.
Federal asbestos regulations did not completely ban the mineral. Many companies, including Garlock, continued to use it to some extent. Some products Garlock made with asbestos include:
- Spiral Wound Gaskets
- Garlock Compressed Asbestos Sheet
- Chemiseal Jacketed Gaskets
- Pre-Cut Gasketing
- Garlock-200 High Pressure Ring Packing
- Garfite 200 Graphite Filament Packing
- Plastallic Packings
- Garlock Insulation Tape
- Plasti-Thread Seal Tape
- Garlock 612 Asbestos Tape
Who Was at Risk for Asbestos Exposure from Garlock Products
Many people risked exposure to asbestos fibers due to Garlock gaskets, packing, tapes, and other sealing products.
Garlock employees who worked in factories that manufactured these products were all put at risk of asbestos exposure. These employees risked inhaling or ingesting the tiny, microscopic fibers that easily break off of the mineral.
Potential exposure goes well beyond those who worked directly for Garlock. Workers who used their products in other industries were also likely to be exposed:
- Construction workers
- Oil and gas workers
- Chemical plant workers
- Maintenance workers
- Shipyard workers
- U.S. Navy veterans
By handling the products, they may have disturbed the asbestos and been exposed to the fibers. Once someone inhales or ingests these fibers, they can become lodged in the body’s tissues, causing serious damage over time.
Asbestos Lawsuits Against Garlock
Because of the asbestos used in its products, Garlock has faced thousands of lawsuits from people who got sick. The company also faced lawsuits from loved ones of people who died due to illnesses caused by asbestos exposure.
- Donald Reynolds, an oil refinery worker for thirty-five years, developed pleural mesothelioma due to exposure on the job. He sued several companies, including Garlock, blaming workplace asbestos exposure for his devastating illness. A jury awarded Reynolds a settlement of $3.75 million. Garlock was found to carry 60% of the liability.
- In another major case, a jury awarded plaintiff Wanda Jones $10.4 million. Jones was the wife of Buddy Jones, a Newport News, Virginia, shipyard worker. Gaskets and sealing pumps exposed Buddy to asbestos while on the job. He later developed mesothelioma. He died before his widow won a settlement from Garlock.
- In still another case, a man employed at a Union Carbide plant filed a suit against Garlock and other companies after developing mesothelioma. In 2010, he and his wife won a settlement of $3 million. According to the jury, Garlock was 45% at fault for his illness.
- James Grumley was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2006. He worked on boilers in a paper mill for many years, which exposed him to asbestos from Garlock gaskets and packing. A jury awarded Grumley $12 million.
Garlock Bankruptcy and Asbestos Trust Fund
These are only three examples of thousands of lawsuits against Garlock. When added together, these lawsuits forced the company to file for bankruptcy protection in 2010.
Although Garlock faced many lawsuits, its legal team aggressively defended its liability, winning many of the cases. The expense of these lawsuits, however, led to the company’s eventual bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy required Garlock to create an asbestos trust fund to pay settlements to victims with valid claims. In 2014, Garlock won a significant victory in the matter of asbestos payouts.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers had been seeking a total of $1.4 billion for the trust fund. A judge reduced the required amount to just $125 million to fund the trust.
This judge cited the inflation of claims by lawyers and ruled some lawyers manipulated evidence that proved their clients were exposed to asbestos through multiple sources, not just Garlock’s products.
What to Do if You Were Exposed to Garlock Asbestos Products
If you or a loved one has mesothelioma and worked with Garlock products in the past, talk to an experienced mesothelioma lawyer. They can review your case for free and determine if you are eligible to file a claim for compensation with the Garlock Trust.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.