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Metalclad Insulation Corp.

Metalclad is a company based in Fullerton, California, which used to produce insulation. Founded in 1933 the company was operating at a time when the use of asbestos was common in many industries, but especially in the production of insulation thanks to its ability to insulate efficiently against heat. Metalclad led the way in producing specialty types of insulation, and supplied its products to a number of industries.

One of the industries it served was the maritime industry, and a lot of Metalclad insulation made its way on to U.S. Navy ships. Rates of mesothelioma, an illness caused by asbestos exposure, are highest in U.S. Navy veterans and Metalclad is just one of many companies that may be responsible for this. Because of the use of asbestos, the company faced lawsuits brought by individuals who were exposed and got sick. Metalclad did not go bankrupt, but did get out of the insulation business.

About the Company

Metalclad was founded in 1933 in Torrance, California, making and installing insulation. The company also made fireproofing materials. Their 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 types, such as pipe covering, insulating cement, insulated metal panels, and asbestos cloth. The company was also involved in hazardous waste removal and waste management, industries it focuses on today after selling its entire asbestos inventory in 1972.

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 bock insulation, asbestos cloth, asbestos pipe covering, and other products. These were used on vessels operating during the Vietnam War. The company has been proven to have known that there were risks associated with asbestos and to have failed to warn those it supplied, including the U.S. Navy

Use of Asbestos

Asbestos is a natural mineral that is mined from the earth for multiple applications. Asbestos is a unique mineral in that it has several properties that make it useful in multiple industries. It is made up of tiny fibers, and it can be molded into many different shapes. It can be added to materials to make them stronger, without adding much additional weight. This property in particular made it useful for shipping applications. Most importantly, however, asbestos is very effective at resisting heat and fire. This has led to its extensive use in insulation and in fireproofing and protective materials.

For Metalclad, the company operated early on during a time when using asbestos for insulation and fireproofing was widespread. No one yet knew for sure that the mineral could cause fatal respiratory illnesses like mesothelioma and lung cancer. Like similar manufacturers, Metalclad used asbestos extensively in its products. It went into nearly all of its specialty insulation products to provide superior protection and insulation against heat. A brand name of products that used asbestos was Unibestos. Products that contained asbestos included pipe coverings, insulation blocks, asbestos fireproofing cloth and materials, insulating cement, pipe insulation, and valve insulation pads.

Exposure in Workers and Veterans

What was not widely known until the middle of the 20th century was that although useful, asbestos was also very harmful. We now know that when workers or others accidentally inhale or ingest the tiny fibers of this mineral, the fibers get stuck 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 caused by asbestos fibers can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma in different parts of the body, and asbestosis, a type of lung scarring.

Workers that made Metalclad products and the many workers that used it in other industries were put at 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 that handled the asbestos in Metalclad factories were at risk.

Also at risk were any workers that were in facilities that used the insulation. At particular risk were the workers who installed, maintained, or repaired the insulation or the materials that were insulated by Metalclad products. Workers in power plants, oil refineries, factories, construction sites, and many other settings could have been impacted by Metalclad insulation.

One of the groups at the biggest risk of exposure is U.S. Navy veterans who worked on vessels that used asbestos insulation. Navy ships used asbestos heavily because it could protect against fire, a dangerous occurrence on ships, and because it was lightweight. Many veterans are now struggling with asbestos illnesses because of Metalclad and other asbestos product suppliers.

Asbestos Lawsuits

Because of the illnesses caused by asbestos exposure through insulation, Metalclad has faced a number of lawsuits over the years. It has settled some, lost and been forced to pay compensation in some, and in other cases succeeded in winning over the plaintiff.  One such case was recently revived by an appeals court in California over the death of a man who worked at a Goodyear Tire plant and developed mesothelioma. He claimed that the company used Metalclad asbestos insulation and that this made him sick.

Initially the case ruled in favor of Metalclad, but later information turned up evidence that the company did have insulation in the plant and that repair work on it crated asbestos dust that likely contributed to the worker’s illness. His family is now hoping to get justice and compensation. 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.

If you believe that 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 newly 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.

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