Kentile Floors is no longer in business but for decades made flooring materials with asbestos. Related cases of mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis in workers mounted, costing Kentile a fortune in lawsuits. Unable to succeed after the bankruptcy organization in the 1990s, Kentile went out of business.
Arthur Kennedy founded Kentile Floors in 1898. The company remained in Brooklyn for 100 years before going out of business. Originally, the company produced vinyl, rubber, and cork floor tiles.
Kentile became successful by offering flooring in a wide range of materials, colors, and patterns. The company also offered products that could be installed by homeowners, removing the added expense of professional installation. In 1949, Kentile introduced its asphalt tiles, vaulting the company into even higher levels of success.
Successful for many years, Kentile was well known for its durable and resilient tiles which were available across the country. Unfortunately, the durability of these famous flooring tiles was largely due to the use of asbestos.
Some estimates state Kentile flooring tiles contained as much as 25% asbestos. As people became sick and connected their illnesses to Kentile’s asbestos tiles, the company faced mounting costs of asbestos and mesothelioma lawsuits. The company never recovered.
Asbestos in Kentile Products
Asbestos is a natural mineral with several important and unique qualities. In the 20th century, asbestos was commonly used in a variety of industries because of these qualities and its low cost. Asbestos was highly prized because it is strong, durable, moldable, and resists heat, fire, electricity, and chemical reactions.
While Kentile used asbestos in nearly all of its flooring, it was particularly prevalent in vinyl tiles, adhesives, and asphalt tiles. The asbestos helped make these tiles extremely durable, a quality for which the company was well known; however, Kentile eventually paid the price for their asbestos use.
Occupational Exposure to Kentile Asbestos Materials
Different groups were affected by the asbestos in Kentile flooring tiles. Most affected were Kentile’s own factory workers. These workers either had to handle the asbestos to make the flooring or were in the area while asbestos was used in production.
While asbestos used in manufacturing is generally non-friable, meaning it doesn’t easily crumble, there is a risk that asbestos fibers could potentially contaminate the air.
When asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, they can cause serious damage inside the body. While not everyone who is exposed will become sick, those who do may develop life-threatening illnesses, like mesothelioma cancer, lung cancer, and asbestosis.
Other industry workers could have been exposed to dangerous asbestos in Kentile products also. Those who installed this tile flooring were most at risk, especially when they cut tiles for installation; however, any construction workers on the same job site were likely to have been exposed to fibers as well.
Finally, homeowners could have been exposed to asbestos in Kentile flooring. Having asbestos in the home can be dangerous. If flooring tiles are disturbed or decay, the fibers can become airborne and cause exposure issues.
The risk of exposure is high for any homeowners who did their renovations or tore out old asbestos floor tiles. Without proper training and safety equipment, these homeowners could have inhaled or ingested asbestos dust.
Kentile faced thousands of lawsuits due to asbestos exposure and resulting illnesses. By 1992, the company turned to chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as a result of these lawsuits. Kentile reorganized and emerged from bankruptcy in 1998, but failed to regain its financial footing. People continue to file lawsuits against the defunct flooring company.
Among the lawsuits filed against Kentile is one by Beverly Fisher. Fisher’s husband, Sidney, died from lung cancer. For decades, Sidney worked as a plumber with and around a variety of construction products, including Kentile flooring.
The case was a mass tort, naming several companies the Fishers believed responsible for his cancer. The case did not prove Kentile was liable for this man’s asbestos-related illness, but appeals are currently going forward.
In another case, Kentile was found responsible in part for a case of mesothelioma. William Harrell and his wife filed a lawsuit against several companies. A Los Angeles jury awarded the plaintiffs $1.6 million. Kentile was required to pay 6% of the award.
Failed Asbestos Trust
Most companies that have faced asbestos-related lawsuits and filed for bankruptcy protection are required to form an asbestos trust. These trusts are funded with an initial investment.
Then funds are administered by a third party who validates claims for people impacted by the company’s asbestos use. Kentile did not establish a trust for victims, and this was a likely reason the company was unable to continue operating.
Kentile filed for bankruptcy and successfully reorganized only to fail at starting an asbestos trust. This puts asbestos victims from their flooring tiles in a difficult position. Instead of filing a claim with a trust to receive compensation, these victims are forced to sue a company that no longer exists.
If you believe Kentile flooring played a role in your illness or that of a spouse, you may have a strong case. Consult with an asbestos lawyer to find out what you can do to get the money you need for medical bills and other expenses.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.