Porter Hayden Company
Porter Hayden was a company that distributed, sold, and installed asbestos insulation throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The company wasn’t in business long before the adverse consequences of providing asbestos products came to light. Workers that installed the insulation and those in facilities that used the insulation Porter Hayden provided began to get sick with asbestos-related illnesses like mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.
The company faced a number of lawsuits from the workers who were exposed and got sick, and eventually Porter Hayden had to file for bankruptcy protection and establish an asbestos trust for compensating victims. The company didn’t survive the lawsuit costs or the reorganization, and today it exists only to operate the trust.
The Porter Hayden Company never made any of the products that it worked with, but it did distribute and sell them to other companies. The main product that they distributed and installed was insulation. The company was founded in 1966 when two older companies merged: H.W. Porter & Co. and Reid Hayden Inc. the former was based in New Jersey and the latter in Maryland. The new company, Porter Hayden operated out of Baltimore.
Porter Hayden was a short-lived company. It distributed and installed a variety of insulation products, like insulated conduit pipes, mostly to industrial facilities along the east coast. Its products largely went into industrial workplaces, like steel plants, chemical plants, and manufacturing facilities. Some of the insulation went into other types of buildings, including residential homes and retail stores. Because of the use of asbestos in the materials it installed, Porter Hayden ended up liable for asbestos illnesses in many people. Lawsuits against the company eventually led to its bankruptcy and the closure of its doors.
Asbestos Use in Insulation
Unlike other insulation companies, Porter Hayden never made its own products. It sold and distributed insulation materials and products and installed them in industrial, residential, and other types of facilities. It operated in this way from its founding in 1966 through the 1970s, when it stopped operations and existed solely to cope with the payments due to workers exposed to asbestos.
Asbestos was used in many insulation products over decades, and by many different companies. This is because asbestos is particularly good at insulating against temperature changes. It can be used effectively to keep heat in homes, to prevent heat loss from furnaces and boilers, to keep refrigeration units from overheating, and from reducing the overheating caused by friction between machine parts. Additionally, asbestos was inexpensive and readily available at one time. Nearly all of the products that Porter Hayden worked with, including insulated piping, wall insulation, industrial insulation, and residential insulation, among many others, were made with asbestos.
The problem with asbestos use in Porter Hayden’s insulation products is that this natural mineral is extremely harmful to human health. When a piece of asbestos is disturbed it can release microscopic fibers that are like tiny needles. These fibers become part of the dust in the air and on surfaces and anyone around it can ingest or inhale them without realizing it. Once in the body, the fibers stick in tissues and cause damage. In some people this will eventually lead to a serious illness: lung cancer, mesothelioma, or asbestosis. The illnesses usually develop decades after exposure and are terminal.
Porter Hayden may not have made the asbestos insulation it used, but the company used it and installed it in various buildings, putting people at risk. The Porter Hayden insulation installers were at risk of being exposed because they directly handled and manipulated the asbestos-containing products. Anyone in the facilities where the insulation was installed could also have been exposed. At greatest risk were any workers who disturbed the insulation. This could be plumbers, electricians, pipefitters, repair and maintenance workers, drywall workers, steamfitters, boiler and furnace workers, and many others.
Lawsuits over Asbestos Illnesses
Porter Hayden was determined to be liable for a number of individual cases of asbestos illnesses because the company installed these products that caused exposure. It didn’t matter that the company didn’t make the products. That it provided them to others was enough to make the company liable. Just ten years after the company formed it saw its first asbestos lawsuit in 1976. This would be the first of thousands of cases.
The company was able to get some of these cases dismissed, including the case of a chemical plant worker from Pennsylvania. He claimed that he worked with asbestos and that this caused his later mesothelioma. Although he was sick earlier, he didn’t get a definite diagnosis until 1984 and Porter Hayden’s lawyers successfully argued that he should have made a claim sooner. The court dismissed his case. Porter Hayden faced thousands more lawsuits and often had to pay out, including a 1992 case in which the company was ordered to pay three plaintiffs $11.2 million.
Bankruptcy and Asbestos Trust
Eventually, all of the lawsuits became too much for Porter Hayden to handle and the company filed for bankruptcy. It entered chapter 11 protection in 2002 and did not emerge with a court-approved reorganization plan until 2007. The plan included an asbestos trust, called the Porter Hayden Bodily Injury Trust. It was funded with $40 million to pay claims to victims of asbestos exposure. The reorganization left the company as an entity that existed solely to deal with asbestos claims.
Throughout the many years that Porter Hayden has fought to dismiss or pay claims, it has also been fighting legal battles with its insurance company, Commercial Union. The insurer refused to cover some of the costs of asbestos litigation and Porter Hayden sued as a result. In 2014 Porter Hayden won a victory against Commercial Union and got $15 million settlement to help cover asbestos claims.
Porter Hayden only distributed asbestos products for about a decade, but in that short amount of time it caused significant damage. A lot of people got sick because of the asbestos in its insulation products and some of these were able to recover damages from the now-defunct company. If you have a claim against Porter Hayden, you can still file with the active trust. Let an experienced lawyer help you make the claim so you have the best chance of winning compensation.
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