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John Crane Company

The John Crane Company began back in 1917 as a packing company, but quickly grew and expanded to include other products and industries. Ultimately it would become one of the leaders in sealing technologies throughout the U.S. and the world. Today the company still makes sealing systems, but also bearings, power couplings, filtration systems, and packing materials.

Throughout its history, John Crane made a lot of different types of industrial and commercial products, and with this variety came the use of asbestos. After decades of use, the company no longer puts asbestos in any of its products, but it is still facing the repercussions of the past. Many former workers and employees at other companies that used John Crane products are filing lawsuits against the company for compensation and justice for being exposed to asbestos and getting sick.

About John Crane

The John Crane Company has a 100-year history of industrial manufacturing and products. Today it is a subsidiary of the Smiths Group and is well known for its variety of mechanical seals and sealing systems. It also makes a variety of other industrial products that serve industries that include mining, petrochemical, pulp and paper, power generation, petroleum refining, and others. None of the products currently offered by John Crane include asbestos.

Company History

The origins of today’s John Crane date back to the 1917 founding of the Crane Packing Company in Chicago. Founder John Crane based the company on his invention of a flexible and lubricated metal packing material. Although the company still offers packing materials and services today, in its early years it quickly grew and expanded its operations well beyond the packing industry.

In the 1940s, John Crane designed and manufactured the first mechanical automotive seal. This was followed by several more innovative sealing technologies, which would become the backbone of the business and allowed the company to become a world leader in seals. Among its innovations and sealing designs was the gas-lubricated seal that became so important for use in a variety of environmental settings, from dry deserts to hot jungles.

Along with expanding the company by developing new designs and manufacturing innovative products, John Crane grew as it acquired other companies. Some of the company’s most recent acquisitions were CDI Energy Services and Oilfield Services, Global Energy Products, and Fiberod.

Asbestos Use in Products

In the early- and mid-1900s, asbestos was used in many different industries. As a mined, natural product, it was abundant and inexpensive. It was also a natural choice for a number of applications because it has some truly unique and varied properties. Asbestos can add strength to materials, without adding much weight, and can be molded into any shape. It resists heat and fire, electricity, and even most chemical reactions.

The John Crane Company is one of many companies that took part in using asbestos for industrial applications. This began before the health hazards of asbestos were fully realized. John Crane was particularly involved in asbestos use because it was an important material in both sealing and packing. The company used asbestos in packing materials because it can mold to a variety of shapes and is lightweight. In seals and gaskets, asbestos helped to seal gaps to prevent leaks, to make the seals stronger, and to add strength, fire resistance, and insulation from heat. Some of the John Crane products known to have contained asbestos include asbestos rope for packing and sealing, ring packing, gaskets, seals, and hydraulic packing, among many others.

Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos is harmful to human health because it can cause illnesses that are most often fatal: lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis, a type of lung scarring that is progressive. The problem with asbestos is that it can become friable, or brittle. When this happens, the small fibers that make up the mineral come loose and become part of the dust that is in the air and that settles on surfaces. Anyone around it may then inhale or actually ingest the fibers, which lodge in tissues in the body like microscopic needles. Over time, this causes damage and in some people serious illness.

Workers involved with John Crane asbestos-containing products, were put at risk of inhaling the fibers, ingesting them, and becoming sick many years later. Workers in John Crane factories may have handled asbestos directly, but even those who were only in the facility could have been at risk of exposure. Also at risk were all the workers in other industries that handled, installed, maintained, or repaired the products from John Crane that included asbestos. Some of the types of workers most at risk were shipyard workers, boiler workers, mechanics, machinists, plumbers, pipefitters, and maintenance workers.

Lawsuits over Mesothelioma and Other Asbestos Illnesses

Because of the asbestos used in products, John Crane has faced lawsuits from former employees and workers in other industries. Although the company has been forced to pay settlements in some of these cases, it has not had to resort to bankruptcy and reorganization. It has so far been able to handle the cases coming its way.

Sometimes these cases cost the company a lot of money. For instance, a case was brought against John Crane in 2012 alleging that the company was liable for John Bristow’s mesothelioma. Although he did not work for John Crane, Bristow handled and used the company’s gaskets and seals for decades on the job. He died from mesothelioma, but his loved ones continued the case requesting compensation for their loss. A jury found that John Crane was in fact responsible for the man’s death and awarded the family over $9 million.

Another case against John Crane ended in a $2.4 million award to William Mansir, a U.S. Navy veteran. Mansir was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2011. He had spent much of his career in the boiler rooms on Navy ships. He repaired and maintained boilers and their components, many of which came from John Crane and included asbestos in the materials.

The John Crane Company is just one of many companies that have exposed workers and other people to asbestos. If you believe the products made by this company played a part in your asbestos illness, consult with an experienced lawyer to determine if you have a case and a valid claim.

Page edited by 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.

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