National Gypsum supplied wallboard and other construction materials, including the Gold Bond products made with asbestos. Declining home building and lawsuits over asbestos-related illnesses led the company to a 1990 bankruptcy, reorganization, and the creation of the National Gypsum Company Bodily Injury Trust. Today victims of asbestos exposure from Gold Bond products can make a claim through the trust to get compensation.
About National Gypsum
Although it went bankrupt, National Gypsum emerged from reorganization and today still makes and sells gypsum wallboard. The Charlotte, North Carolina company is one of the largest gypsum wallboard manufacturers globally and the second-largest in the U.S.
In addition to Gold Bond gypsum board, the company also sells ProForm drywall products and PermaBase cement board.
National Gypsum Company History
The history of National Gypsum begins in 1925 with Melvin H. Baker, Joseph F. Haggerty, and Clarence E. Williams. These three businessmen founded their company to make and sell a new construction product: gypsum wallboard, designed to be lighter and easier to use than competitors’ products but just as strong if not stronger.
The company sold all of its wallboard with a “Gold Bond” worth $5,000. If a customer could find a better and comparable product, the company would pay $5,000. The gimmick led to the brand name Gold Bond.
National Gypsum had great success with Gold Bond gypsum board. It grew quickly as word of the high quality of the product spread. The company also expanded by buying other companies. This expanded the product line to include additional construction materials:
- Plastic panels
- Textured paint
- Wall stucco
- Rock wool
- Acoustic tiles
Unfortunately, many of the products that National Gypsum made, including its famous Gold Bond wallboard, were made with asbestos. This caused some people to get sick with asbestos-related illnesses and resulted in costly mesothelioma lawsuits.
By 1990 National Gypsum sought bankruptcy protection. It emerged from chapter 11 in 1993 and today continues to operate and sell Gold Bond and other products without asbestos.
Use of Asbestos in National Gypsum Products
Asbestos was common in construction materials before the 1970s. National Gypsum was not alone in using asbestos in gypsum wallboard and other products. Asbestos adds insulation to these products, fire protection, and strength and durability without extra weight.
While the bulk of the wallboard was harmless gypsum, asbestos was a part of the recipe for many years—almost every Gold Bond-branded product the company made used asbestos at one point.
Gold Bond products known to have contained asbestos include the gypsum wallboard, asbestos panels, plaster, cement board, siding, joint compounds, plastic panels, fire-shield panels, and tar paper.
Other brand-name products from National Gypsum that contained asbestos at one time were E-Z Soak, Flexfelt, Abestone, Sprayolite, Thermotec, and Permaboard. National Gypsum stopped using asbestos in its products in the 1970s, but it had already done serious damage.
Workers in the National Gypsum facilities that made the products were put at risk because of asbestos, and many even handled it. Asbestos is composed of tiny fibers which can easily be disturbed and become a part of the dust and air in the facility that workers may then inhale, causing internal damage and, for some, later illnesses.
By using asbestos in the recipe for so many products, National Gypsum put a lot of workers at risk for later health problems, including the progressive lung condition called asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer.
It was not only National Gypsum workers who got sick, though. Any workers who used their products in other industries were at risk, especially construction workers. These workers installed, replaced, and dismantled things like wallboard with asbestos.
They sanded these materials and created asbestos dust. Any workers around or working with these products were at risk, including painters, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, plasterers, drywall installers, and others. They may also have brought asbestos dust home on their clothing, putting family members at risk too.
As the dangers of asbestos became well known and people were diagnosed with asbestos illnesses, some victims sued National Gypsum. One pipefitter who developed mesothelioma filed suit and died from the disease.
He had been exposed to asbestos through various products, including National Gypsum materials. Because the victim remembered seeing the Gold Bond brand at work sites, the company was included in the case as one of several defendants.
Mercer University sued the company, and others, in 1985 over the use of asbestos in construction materials. The school had to pay a lot of money to have materials replaced for the safety of staff and students. The case resulted in a win for the university, including over $100,000 from National Gypsum.
In a similar case, the company was forced to pay $8.4 million to multiple school districts for the costs of replacing asbestos materials.
Bankruptcy and Asbestos Trust Fund
By the late 1980s, National Gypsum faced several problems, including declining sales and the overwhelming cost of asbestos lawsuits. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1990 and emerged, reorganized, in 1993.
The re-emergence did not go well, and in 2002, the company again filed for bankruptcy, emerging for the second time in 2003.
As a part of this second reorganization, National Gypsum created an asbestos trust, a source of money that could be used to compensate current and future victims of past asbestos exposure.
The National Gypsum Company Bodily Injury Trust was funded with $347 million from various sources, including insurance policies. The trust is still active, and victims can make claims through it.
National Gypsum is still a successful company that produces wallboard and other products under the Gold Brand and other names. Although the company has stuck with the brand name that worked for it for so long, none of its products contain any asbestos.
The trust gives any new victims of past asbestos exposure a chance to get the compensation they need. If you believe that any National Gypsum products contributed to your asbestos illness, contact an experienced lawyer to help you make a successful claim.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.