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Rapid American Corporation/Philip Carey Manufacturing Corporation

The Philip Carey Manufacturing Corporation, which later became a subsidiary of Rapid American Corporation, was a company that made insulation and industrial equipment. The insulation it made was for industrial applications, such as for insulating generators, boilers, furnaces, and pipes. These materials were made with asbestos for many years, resulting in illness in thousands of exposed workers.

Because of the overwhelming number of lawsuits related to Philip Carey products, Rapid American was forced to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy and reorganization in 2013. The company has not yet emerged from bankruptcy protection. While Rapid American continues to exist as a company, it has not engaged in any business operations since 1989. There has been no creation yet of an asbestos trust to help compensate victims.

Company History

Rapid American was only created in 1966, but the history of the Philip Carey Manufacturing Company is much older. The company was founded in Ohio in 1888 to make and distribute a number of asbestos-containing products, mostly industrial insulation materials and products. The company got asbestos from mines in Quebec and used it to create industrial-grade insulation for boilers, pipes, and other purposes in power plants, steel mills, textile mills, refineries, chemical plants, and other types of industrial facilities.

In 1967 Philip Carey merged with a company called Glen Alden Corporation, and was then commonly referred to as the “New Carey.” Just three years later it merged with another company, Briggs Manufacturing, which then changed its name to Panacon. Glen Alden eventually sold Panacon, which had Philip Carey as a subsidiary company, to Celotex. In 1972, Celotex merged with Rapid American, another Ohio-based manufacturing company. From then until the present, Philp Carey would remain a subsidiary of Rapid American. Rapid American was founded by Meshulam Riklis in 1966 by merging two companies that made plates and lithographs.

Lawsuits over asbestos use in products made by Philip Carey began emerging in the late 1970s, and quickly became overwhelming and costly for Rapid American. The company ceased operations in 1989 and continued to exist only for dealing with the asbestos liability and claims brought by former workers. By 2013 the company was forced to seek bankruptcy protection, where it remains today.

Asbestos Use in Products

Because Philip Carey made insulation products, it had a period of time in which it used asbestos in those products. This was common in the early and middle 1900s, as asbestos was readily available, was a good insulator, and was not yet pinpointed as a major health risk. Even as evidence began to be collected that asbestos could cause illness, many companies continued to use it because it worked so well.

Philip Carey made a range of insulation products for industrial settings. Asbestos is highly efficient at insulating, keeping heat from being lost, and is also lightweight, strong, and easy to form into different shapes. All of these qualities made it an obvious choice for use in the pipe insulation, boiler insulation, insulating cement and bricks, and other industrial products Philip Carey made.

Workers Exposed to Asbestos

The problem with asbestos, which was discovered definitely many decades ago, is that it is harmful to human health. Being exposed to the tiny fibers of asbestos minerals can lead to damage in internal tissues that in some people lead to mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis. These are all illnesses that are very serious and difficult to impossible to treat or cure. Most workers who were exposed to asbestos on the job don’t develop symptoms or signs of the illnesses until decades later, making diagnosis tricky.

Workers for Philip Carey were at risk of being exposed to harmful asbestos fibers because they worked around or directly with asbestos. These workers would have handled the asbestos that was added to the materials that made their insulation products. Any handling can cause the harmful fibers of asbestos to break loose and lead to inhalation or ingestion. Anyone working around asbestos is at risk, but those who handled it were in the greatest danger.

Those workers who may have handled Philip Carey asbestos-containing products include the workers in the manufacturing plants, installers who put the insulation in place in other facilities, and workers in those other facilities that bought and installed Philip Carey insulation. These could have included pipefitters, boiler workers, machinists, factory workers, insulation and equipment repair workers, electricians, plumbers, metal workers, and many others.

Asbestos Lawsuits

With Philip Carey as a subsidiary, Rapid American became liable for the harm caused by asbestos in the insulation products the company made. Lawsuits over illnesses began coming in throughout the mid- and late-1970s and continue today. Initially many of the lawsuits targeted Celotex, but that subsidiary went bankrupt and was not able to raise enough funds for an asbestos trust. Liability next fell to Rapid American.

An example of a case against Rapid American came in 1997 when the family of a deceased welder who developed and died from mesothelioma in 1995. The family claimed he worked with asbestos products from various manufacturers, including Rapid American, and that these products directly caused his death. In another case the accusation came from a Navy veteran who developed lung cancer after working on ships that were built with asbestos products.

Philip Carey and Rapid American Today

After fighting against and paying settlements for thousands of lawsuits, Rapid American was in a difficult spot. It completely halted business operations, no longer making products, in 1989, but continued to exist as a company to take responsibility for and settle mesothelioma and asbestos claims. By 2013 the company was forced to file for bankruptcy, but so far it has not reached a reorganization agreement. This makes it difficult for asbestos victims to get compensation through either lawsuits or a trust fund. At the time it filed for Chapter 11, Rapid American had about 275,000 personal injury claims against it, assets of between just $50 and $100 million and debts between $100 and $500 million.

The current state of affairs for victims of Philip Carey asbestos products does not looked good. It is hoped that Rapid American will emerge from bankruptcy and be able to establish and asbestos trust to provide compensation, but so far everything is at a standstill as the company battles with its insurance companies. If you were impacted by Philip Carey asbestos insulation, contact a mesothelioma lawyer to help advise you on what your options are and what to do next.

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