Leslie Controls, Inc. manufactured industrial products with asbestos for decades, including valves for naval vessels during World War II. This caused asbestos exposure in many people, including workers and Navy veterans, some of whom became sick later. Lawsuits led to bankruptcy in 2011, followed by the creation of an asbestos trust.
Leslie Controls History and Asbestos
Leslie Controls was founded by Canadian John Leslie in 1905. Leslie invented the steam-powered snowplow that could be used by trains to clear tracks.
- Leslie began selling regulators and steam pressure valves. It operated out of a foundry and office in Lyndhurst, New Jersey.
- Leslie Controls quickly built a reputation in the industry for high-quality, reliable parts, particularly its regulators and steam pressure valves. Eventually, this hard-earned reputation led to contracts with the United States military.
- Leslie Controls supplied U.S. Navy ships and merchant ships with valves, regulators, and other steam control equipment during World War I and World War II. These parts were made with asbestos.
- By 1968, the company moved to a larger facility in Parsippany, New Jersey. Subsequently, Leslie Controls expanded its product line as well as its customer base to include industrial clients and utility companies.
- Eventually, Leslie Controls moved to Tampa, Florida. In the 1990s, the company further expanded its product, breaking into other areas of fluid management.
- In 1990, Leslie was acquired by another company that kept the name. Leslie faced numerous lawsuits over asbestos exposure, which ultimately forced it into bankruptcy protection in 2010.
Today Leslie Controls, Inc. manufactures control valves, steam water heaters, safety and relief valves, regulators, steam conditioning systems, on/off and shut-off valves, actuators, and pump protection valves. It also makes air horns for trains. Leslie’s products are sold under Circor Energy’s brand through its Thermal Fluid Division.
How and When Did Leslie Controls Use Asbestos?
For many years, Leslie Controls used asbestos in a number of its parts. Asbestos was once commonly used in several industries, particularly high-temperature industries that needed this natural mineral for its resistance to heat and fire.
Leslie made parts for boilers and steam engines, which operated at high temperatures and pressure. Their parts needed to resist heat as well as create a flexible and durable seal.
In the 1970s, as the dangers of asbestos came to light, government restrictions were enacted. However, many components made by Leslie contained asbestos until 1988.
Leslie Controls Products That Included Asbestos
Valves and other parts used gaskets or seals containing asbestos, most of which were manufactured by third parties. Leslie components that contained asbestos include:
- Steam water heaters
- Packing materials
Who Was at Risk of Asbestos Exposure from Leslie Controls?
Although asbestos provided the qualities necessary for gaskets, valves, and other parts, it posed serious risks to human health. Anyone who came into contact with these Leslie parts could have been exposed to asbestos in them.
Anyone who worked on mechanical systems that included these parts may have brushed, drilled, or scraped them, releasing dangerous asbestos fibers into the air.
Some of the workers at greatest risk of exposure were Leslie employees who manufactured asbestos-containing products.
Workers in other industries who worked with or near Leslie Controls products were also at risk of asbestos exposure:
- Boiler workers
- Steam engine workers
- Industrial workers
- Maintenance workers
- Shipyard workers
- HVAC workers
Because Leslie supplied parts to Navy ships, veterans of these vessels were also at risk. Navy veterans now have some of the highest rates of mesothelioma because of the amount of asbestos used on naval vessels.
Asbestos Lawsuits Against Leslie Controls
Leslie has faced thousands of lawsuits over asbestos-related illnesses, particularly by Navy veterans. These are just a few examples:
- Twenty-year Navy veteran Richard Merrill sued after serving on four different vessels in his military career. He worked with valves and gaskets provided by Leslie and was eventually diagnosed with mesothelioma. Although the veteran won over $1 million, Leslie had the decision reversed because he could not completely connect his illness to Leslie products.
- John Davis worked with Leslie Controls products while working in multiple jobs from the 1950s to 1970s. He developed mesothelioma and filed a lawsuit against Leslie and other companies. Davis received over $5 million in damages. A jury determined Leslie Controls to be 7.1% liable.
- Another lawsuit involved Navy veteran Peter Constantinides. He served on the USS Iowa between 1954 and 1956, where he worked as a fireman. His role included time spent in the boiler room, which contained numerous asbestos components. Constantinides developed mesothelioma in 2007.
Bankruptcy and Asbestos Trust Fund
This trust is called the Leslie Controls Asbestos Personal Injury Trust and was funded with $75 million. Leslie emerged from bankruptcy and is now part of Circor Energy. The trust is still active and accepting claims.
As of 2014, the payment percentage for the Leslie Controls Asbestos Trust is 5%.
If You Were Exposed to Leslie Controls Asbestos Products
If you think you developed an asbestos illness because of Leslie products, you can file a claim and make a case to receive compensation from the trust. There is a time limit on filing with the trust, so it’s important to act quickly.
Making a successful claim for compensation can be complicated, so work with an asbestos lawyer. They can review your case for free, determine all companies responsible for your exposure, and give you the best chance of a good outcome.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.