The John Crane Company began in 1917 as a simple packing company but grew to include other products and industries, including many that used asbestos. Although the company no longer uses asbestos in its products, it still faces liabilities for worker exposure and illnesses like mesothelioma.
About John Crane
The John Crane Company has a rich 100-year history of industrial manufacturing. Today it is a subsidiary of the Smiths Group and is well known for its mechanical seals and sealing systems.
John Crane also makes a variety of other products that serve industries like petrochemical, mining, pulp and paper, power generation, and petroleum refining. John Crane’s products no longer contain asbestos.
In 1917, John Crane founded the Crane Packing Company in Chicago. The company was based on Crane’s invention of a flexible and lubricated metal packing material. In its early years, it expanded operations well beyond the packing industry and the company still offers packing materials today.
In the 1940s, John Crane designed and manufactured the first mechanical automotive seal. The backbone of the business came from the innovative sealing technology which they invented.
Among its innovations and sealing designs was the gas-lubricated seal that became important for a variety of environmental settings.
John Crane also grew by acquiring other businesses. Some of the company’s recent acquisitions include CDI Energy Services, Oilfield Services, Global Energy Products, and Fiberod.
Asbestos Use in Products
For most of the 20th century, asbestos proved useful in many different industries. As a mined, natural product, it was inexpensive and abundant.
Asbestos also has several unique qualities for a variety of applications. Asbestos can add strength to materials without adding much weight. It can also be molded into any shape and resists heat, electricity, fire, and chemical reactions.
The John Crane Company is one of many companies that used asbestos for industrial applications before the health hazards of this mineral were fully understood. 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 is easy to mold into a variety of shapes and it’s lightweight. For gaskets and other types of seals, asbestos helped prevent leaks while adding strength, fire resistance, and insulation. Some John Crane products known to have contained asbestos include:
- Asbestos rope for packing and sealing
- Ring packing
- Hydraulic packing
Asbestos is harmful to human health because it can cause devastating illnesses like lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis, a type of progressive lung scarring. The problem with asbestos is that it can easily become brittle or friable. When this happens, small fibers become part of the dust in the air, often settling on surfaces.
Anyone in the area can inhale or ingest the fibers. Once inside the body, these microscopic fibers become lodged in tissues, causing damage over time. Some of those who are exposed to asbestos eventually develop fatal illnesses.
Workers involved with John Crane asbestos-containing products were put at risk of inhaling or ingesting the fibers and becoming sick many years later. Many workers in John Crane factories handled asbestos directly; however, anyone in the facility could have been exposed.
Also at risk were workers in other industries that handled, installed, maintained, or repaired these products from John Crane. The types of workers most at risk were shipyard workers, mechanics, machinists, boiler workers, plumbers, pipefitters, and maintenance workers.
Lawsuits over Mesothelioma and Other Asbestos Illnesses
Because of asbestos used in products, former employees, as well as workers in other industries, have brought lawsuits against John Crane. Although the company has been forced to pay settlements in several cases, it has not sought bankruptcy protection.
Often these cases were quite expensive for the company. For example, a case brought against John Crane in 2012 alleged the company was liable for John Bristow’s mesothelioma. Although Bristow did not work for John Crane, he used the company’s gaskets and seals at his job for decades.
Bristow died from mesothelioma, but his loved ones continued the case, requesting compensation for their loss. A jury found John Crane 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. In 2011, Mansir was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He had spent much of his career on Navy ships, maintaining and repairing boilers and their components. Many of these components included asbestos and were manufactured by John Crane.
The John Crane Company is one of many companies that exposed workers and others to asbestos. If you believe the products made by this company played a part in your asbestos-related illness, consult with an experienced lawyer to determine if you have a valid 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.