Malleable Iron Range Company made wood-burning stoves, ranges, and other household and industrial appliances. By the 1960s, the company began facing lawsuits related to asbestos use in its products, which caused some people to get sick. In 1985, the company filed for bankruptcy and eventually shut its doors for good without creating an asbestos trust.
In 1896, A.C. Terrell and Silas McClure opened a stove factory in St. Louis. By 1899, they had incorporated their fledgling company as the Malleable Iron Range Company. They created the Monarch brand for their stoves and moved the company to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.
Malleable’s original household stoves and ranges burned coal or wood and quickly became popular. The company then worked with inventor Sam Insull to design and sell electric ranges under the brand name Fedelco; subsequently, Malleable expanded its lineup to include washing machines, irons, and other household products.
For decades, Malleable manufactured stoves and ranges, earning a reputation for their reliable and sturdy appliances. Malleable appliances were more expensive than the competition, but buyers kept coming back because of the quality of the products. Malleable found a niche for top-of-the-line products and quickly became a household name.
The company also sold water heaters, furnaces, and other products to utility companies. This side of the business began to wane in the 1960s, causing financial woes for the company.
In the 1970s, wood-burning stove sales declined, mostly due to new regulations. In the 1970s, asbestos-related lawsuits began to hurt Malleable. Because the company could not keep up with legal expenses or compete with larger appliance manufacturers, Malleable went out of business in 1985.
Malleable Asbestos Use
Malleable was not alone in its asbestos use. At one time, many companies used asbestos, particularly in products that needed to withstand high heat. Asbestos is a natural mineral with effective insulating qualities. Manufacturers also added it to materials to make them more durable when heated to high temperatures.
These properties were vital in many of Malleable’s products, and many of their ranges and stoves were lined with asbestos insulation. Before the risks of asbestos were well known, the company even advertised its asbestos use. Malleable water heaters used by utility companies may also have contained asbestos insulation.
Asbestos used in Malleable products was likely not a risk to homeowners. As long as the stoves and ranges remained in good condition, people would not have been exposed to its harmful fibers.
The real risk with asbestos comes when the material is damaged and fibers enter the air as dust. Once these tiny fibers become airborne, anyone in the area can inhale them. Eventually, inhaled fibers can cause tissue damage leading to mesothelioma, asbestosis, and asbestos lung cancer.
Those most at risk of asbestos exposure from Malleable products were the company’s employees. Factory workers often handled or worked near asbestos, putting them at risk.
Other workers who installed, maintained, and repaired Malleable appliances in homes and businesses were also at risk. The asbestos in these products could have been disturbed during their work, sending fibers into the air.
Lawsuits and Bankruptcy
Like other companies that used asbestos, Malleable struggled with the cost of asbestos-related lawsuits. While it stopped using asbestos sooner than many other companies, people still got sick. As a result of these illnesses, people filed lawsuits decades after their exposure.
These lawsuits cost the company enough money that, combined with its struggling sales, drove Malleable into bankruptcy. The company closed its doors without forming an asbestos trust fund to compensate victims.
Asbestos Cleanup at Malleable
When Malleable shut down, it left behind an environmental mess. Another company purchased the Wisconsin factory, which required a massive cleanup because of hazardous waste. An investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources found asbestos and other dangerous contaminants.
The problem was big enough to bring in the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with $369,000 in Superfund money to help with the cleanup. Although Malleable was no longer operating, it had to repay part of that money back to the EPA.
Malleable Iron Range Company is just one company that used asbestos and eventually paid the price. The harm caused can never be compensated fully; however, victims did recover some damages through lawsuits.
You can contact a mesothelioma lawyer today if you believe asbestos used in Malleable appliances harmed you or a loved one. While the company is no longer in business and does not operate a trust fund, you may be able to recover damages and get justice.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.