Fullerton, California-based Metalclad Insulation Corp. made insulation beginning in 1933 when asbestos was common in the industry. Many ships, including those in the navy, used this insulation, leading to a high incidence of mesothelioma in shipyard workers, crews, and U.S. Navy veterans. Metalclad faced several lawsuits and eventually stopped making insulation.
Metalclad History and Asbestos
Metalclad was founded in 1933 in Torrance, California, to make and install insulation. The company also made fireproofing materials.
- Metalclad’s products were used in a number of different industries, including HVAC, public utilities, maritime, plumbing, construction, and others.
- Metalclad made a name for itself by designing specialty insulation, such as pipe covering, insulating cement, insulated metal panels, and asbestos cloth.
- While Metalclad supplied several different industries with insulation and related materials that contained asbestos, the U.S. Navy was a big recipient.
- In the 1960s, for example, Metalclad supplied the Long Beach Naval Shipyard with block insulation, asbestos cloth, asbestos pipe covering, and other products. These were used on vessels operating during the Vietnam War.
- The company knew there were risks associated with asbestos and failed to warn those it supplied, including the U.S. Navy. This led to a number of lawsuits over several decades.
Metalclad added hazardous waste removal and waste management to its offerings, industries it focuses on today after selling its entire asbestos inventory in 1972.
How Did Metalclad Use Asbestos?
Asbestos is a natural mineral mined from the earth for multiple uses. It is made up of tiny fibers and can be molded into many different shapes. Adding it to other materials makes them stronger without adding much extra weight.
This property, in particular, made it useful on ships. Most importantly, however, asbestos resists heat and fire. This has led to its extensive use in insulation and fireproofing and protective materials.
Metalclad operated when asbestos was widely used for insulation and fireproofing. No one yet knew that the mineral could cause fatal respiratory illnesses like mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Like similar manufacturers, Metalclad used asbestos extensively in its products. Asbestos went into nearly all of its specialty insulation products to provide superior protection and insulation against heat.
Metalclad also brokered the sale and delivery of asbestos insulation from other companies to shipyards. One of these was Unibestos products made by Pittsburgh Corning.
Insulation products that contained asbestos included:
- Pipe coverings
- Insulation blocks
- Asbestos fireproofing cloth and materials
- Insulating cement
- Pipe insulation
- Valve insulation pads
Who Was Exposed to Asbestos in Metalclad Insulation?
By the middle of the 20th century, experts determined that asbestos harmed human health. When workers or others accidentally inhale or ingest the tiny fibers of this mineral, they remain in the body and cause damage to tissues over decades.
During this long latency period, people may be getting sick without realizing it. The damage from asbestos fibers can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma in different parts of the body, and asbestosis, a type of lung scarring.
Metalclad Insulation Manufacturing Workers
Workers who made Metalclad products and those in other industries that used those products faced the risk of harmful exposure to asbestos fibers.
Any work that caused the asbestos in insulation and other products to become exposed or damaged could release the dangerous fibers into the air, putting anyone in the area at risk. Those who handled the asbestos in Metalclad factories were at risk.
Workers in Other Industries
At particular risk were those who installed, maintained, or repaired the insulation or the materials insulated by Metalclad products.
Also at risk were any workers in facilities that used the insulation:
U.S. Navy Veterans
U.S. Navy veterans who worked on vessels that used asbestos insulation have a high risk. Navy ships used asbestos heavily to protect against fire, which is so dangerous on ships, and because it was lightweight.
Many veterans are now struggling with asbestos illnesses because of asbestos product suppliers. Metalclad was an important supplier to Navy ships.
Secondhand Metalclad Asbestos Exposure
Also known as secondary or take-home asbestos exposure, secondhand exposure occurs when a worker brings asbestos fibers from the job into the home. Many children and wives of workers were exposed when their fathers or husbands carried asbestos fibers home.
This occurred before workers understood that they might be putting their families at risk. They didn’t know about protective equipment or the importance of changing before leaving work.
Asbestos Lawsuits Against Metalclad
Because of the illnesses caused by asbestos exposure through insulation, Metalclad has faced many lawsuits. These are just a few examples of the many lawsuits against Metalclad related to asbestos:
- An appeals court in California recently revived one such case. It concerned the death of Mark Ganoe, who worked at a Goodyear Tire plant and developed mesothelioma. He claimed that the company used Metalclad asbestos insulation which made him sick. Initially, the case went in favor of Metalclad. Later evidence revealed the company did have insulation in the plant and that repair work on it created asbestos dust that likely contributed to the worker’s illness.
- In another case, the plaintiff lost against Metalclad. He worked as a civilian on and around Navy submarines and handled Unibestos. He developed mesothelioma, but a court decided in favor of Metalclad.
- Another case involved Gary Kase, who developed asbestosis after working at the Vallejo shipyard in California. He unloaded asbestos insulation. Kase’s lawsuit against other contractors was successful, but Metalclad received immunity. The First District Court of Appeal decided Metalclad was immune as a government contractor.
- In 2020, Ronald Wilgenbusch and his wife sued Metalclad over the mesothelioma he developed after serving as an admiral in the navy. Over a Zoom trial, the jury awarded them $2.5 million.
- Anthony Cadlo served in the U.S. Navy from 1965 to 1968. He was a machinist on board the USS Black, where he worked with pumps, valves, and insulation. During part of his service, Cadlo and others removed insulation from the ship over a period of a few months at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard. Diagnosed with mesothelioma years later, he and his wife sued Metalclad and other suppliers. They won more than $5.6 million.
- In a case of secondhand exposure, Barbara Brandes died from mesothelioma after being exposed to fibers of asbestos her husband brought home on his clothing. Raymond Brandes also died of asbestos illnesses after working at a refinery in Ferndale, Washington, for decades. Brandes’s estate sued several insulation manufacturers, including Metalclad. A jury awarded her estate $3.5 million.
What to Do if You Were Exposed to Metalclad Asbestos Insulation?
If you believe Metalclad products contributed to your asbestos-related illness, you have an opportunity to make a case against the company. With a long latency period, these illnesses are still being diagnosed, and if you get sick, you may be eligible for compensation.
Contact an asbestos lawyer to find out what you can do about it. You might have the option to file a lawsuit against several companies or to get a settlement. Don’t wait to act. Every state has a statute of limitations that puts a time limit on your legal action against an asbestos company.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.