Moore Dry Dock Company, also known as Moore Shipbuilding, constructed and repaired hundreds of vessels during and after the world wars. The heavy use of asbestos in ships during this period left many workers and navy veterans with devastating diseases like mesothelioma.
About Moore Dry Dock
Moore Dry Dock was created as a joint venture between founders Robert S. Moore, Joseph Moore, and John Thomas Scott. The trio purchased what was known as the National Iron Works, located at Hunter’s Point in San Francisco.
They initially named the business Moore & Scott Iron Works but subsequently changed the business name to Moore Shipbuilding Company in 1917 after moving the business to Oakland and buying the W.A. Boole and Son Shipyard.
In 1922, the name changed again to Moore Dry Dock Company. In the beginning, the company primarily focused its energies on ship repair work.
When World War II started, the shipyard received $9 million from U.S. Navy to build ships. The shipyard also built ships commercially for the private sector.
Like most shipyard workers during World War II and the years before and after, Moore Dry Dock workers were constantly exposed to asbestos, according to numerous court files and findings.
The Dangers of Asbestos
Although not much information was known about the dangers of asbestos initially, memos traced back to the 1940s suggest that both asbestos manufacturers and shipyard owners knew about the dangers.
However, business was good for asbestos manufacturers, and despite warnings, the companies continued to ship asbestos-containing products to shipyards across the nation.
Many shipyard workers, in turn, breathed in dangerous asbestos fibers by simply going to work each day, without any knowledge of the dangers and without safety gear to protect themselves.
Asbestos affected different workers in various occupations at the shipyard. The workers who were reportedly exposed the most to asbestos included:
- Insulation workers
- General laborers
Years later, workers began falling ill. Lawsuits against asbestos manufacturers began to pile up. Still, in some instances, former shipyard workers filed asbestos lawsuits against the shipyards they worked for, such as the case of Foglia vs. Moore Dry Dock Company.
Asbestos Lawsuit against Moore Dry Dock
In 2018, Sandra Foglia, the widow of a former shipyard worker, Felix Foglia, filed a mesothelioma lawsuit against Moore Dry Dock after her son, Ronald Foglia, developed mesothelioma from second-hand asbestos exposure via his father’s clothing.
Moore Dry Dock argued that it “owed no duty of care” to the family, claiming that Ronald had second-hand exposure, but he could not 100% prove it to be linked back to the shipyard. The court sided with the shipyard and ruled the plaintiffs did not provide enough substantive evidence to win their case.
Foglia appealed and argued that the shipyard “failed to conduct comprehensive discovery and failed to disclose all the evidence it had already discovered.” In other words, the plaintiff accused the shipyard of knowing about asbestos use at the shipyard, including its dangers, yet failing to disclose its findings, which would have helped protect workers.
Unfortunately, since a lot of the testimony was based on hearsay that Felix heard from others when he was a younger boy, the plaintiff didn’t have enough evidence to prove their case. The court upheld its initial decision.
“The court found a duty of care could arise on the part of an employer to protect family members of its employees from exposure to harmful substances encountered by its employees in the course and scope of their employment. The court next concluded MDD had made a sufficient showing based on plaintiff’s factually devoid discovery responses to shift the burden of proof to plaintiffs regarding Father’s exposure.”
Despite the court’s ruling in this particular case, other findings have shown that Moore Dry Dock did indeed know about asbestos at the shipyard. Numerous workers filed lawsuits against the shipyard, with the majority of cases ending in undisclosed settlements.
Did Moore Dry Dock Know about Asbestos Issues?
During the 2000s, federal laws began to shift in favor of asbestos plaintiffs. Shipyards now have the burden of proving no asbestos existed at the workplace instead of placing the burden on plaintiffs to provide all of the proof.
Not many shipyards can prove this since more than one million people worked at shipyards, with many of them later developing asbestos illnesses that have been directly linked to their employment.
Asbestos exposure at Moore Dry Dock was also discussed in the book, From Labor to Reward, written by Martha C. Taylor. The book, in part, explores the life of Henry Taylor, a black man who migrated to California and worked at the shipyard to help support his family.
“It didn’t take long for Henry to find employment as a general laborer at Moore Dry Dock Shipyard, Oakland, where work was plentiful, not knowing that exposure to asbestos would contribute to his death years later.”
Moore Dry Dock Today
Moore Dry Dock shut down in 1961, as mentioned. Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc., a steel manufacturing and scrap metal recycling company, bought the former shipyard site.
The shipyard was notable for employing many African-Americans during a time of high racial discrimination in the U.S. Many of these workers, however, such as Henry Taylor, ended up with fatal asbestos illnesses.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.