Raymark/Raybestos-Manhattan Industries/Raytech are the companies known for making and selling Raybestos brakes. Like many other companies in the automotive industry, Raymark used asbestos in its brakes for many years, which caused people to get sick. The resulting lawsuits sent the company into bankruptcy and reorganization with the creation of a trust fund to compensate victims.
The A.H. Raymond Company was founded by Arthur H. Raymond and Arthur F. Law in 1902. Headquartered in Stratford, Connecticut, the company name soon changed to Raybestos Industries and became synonymous with high-quality brakes.
Raybestos eventually merged with a competitor, and the name changed to Raybestos-Manhattan. The name was changed once more to Raymark Industries.
A cornerstone of the business was the invention of a woven brake lining. While that proprietary brake lining was efficient and popular, it included dangerous asbestos.
As a result of that asbestos use, many people became sick, resulting in expensive lawsuits filed against the company. Raymark faced many lawsuits as a result.
During these lawsuits, investigators discovered that Raymark knew about the dangers of asbestos. Instead of adequately protecting the public, Raymark actively hid that fact from workers and consumers. The president of Raybestos was specifically called out for denying knowledge of asbestos and its harms.
The brand name, Raybestos, managed to survive scandals, lawsuits, and company bankruptcy. Today the Raybestos brand is owned by Brake Parts Inc, which continues to make and distribute brakes and other automotive parts. The company is headquartered in McHenry, Illinois.
Asbestos Use in Brakes
Raymark used asbestos in its brakes for decades. The company’s brakes were used in several types of vehicles, including cars, trucks, trains, and heavy machinery.
Brakes create heat and friction as the parts rub together. This can lead to overheating and failed brakes, which is extremely dangerous. Brake linings must prevent overheating, and asbestos is highly effective.
Even when company leaders knew the asbestos could cause harm, they continued to use it in their brake production.
Although asbestos made Raybestos brakes durable, it also caused some people to develop devastating diseases. Asbestos is made up of tiny microscopic fibers that can cause serious harm if accidentally swallowed or inhaled.
These sharp fibers can become lodged in the body, causing tissue damage, especially in the lungs. For some, this can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, or a scarring of the lungs called asbestosis.
Workers at risk of exposure and resulting illness included those who made Raybestos brand brakes and brake linings. Handling, shaping, trimming and grinding down asbestos to easily make the parts caused the exposure.
In addition, anyone who used Raybestos parts, including professional mechanics and amateur car enthusiasts, were also at risk. When a mechanic or amateur changes the brakes on a vehicle, they exposed built-up dust. This dust likely contained asbestos fibers.
Because of this exposure, many people filed lawsuits against Raymark and Raybestos products. In 1982, the company officially changed its name to Raymark to remove the stigma of asbestos. It also stopped using asbestos in the early 1980s; however, the damage had already been done, and lawsuits were being filed as a result.
Many people brought cases against Raymark and won compensation. Among these lawsuits was a woman whose husband died from asbestosis after working for the company.
In another case, the state of Connecticut won money to recoup cleanup expenses for Raybestos sites in the state. While Raymark fought aggressively against these kinds of lawsuits, often counter-suing claimants, it was forced to pay significant amounts to victims of asbestos exposure.
Bankruptcy and Asbestos Trust
Because of those lawsuits, Raymark eventually filed for bankruptcy in 1989. The company attempted to spin off various companies to protect assets from litigation. This included the recreation of Raytech, but that company also filed for bankruptcy.
It took until 2001 for Raymark and Raybestos to emerge from bankruptcy. Part of the reorganization agreement included the creation of an asbestos trust to compensate victims. The Raytech Corporation Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust was funded with $52 million.
Raybestos Superfund Site
The damage caused by Raymark and Raybestos products did not end with individual cases of asbestos illnesses. Because of environmental contamination at manufacturing sites, the EPA issued citations to the company.
The company contaminated the soil and surrounding area at its Stratford, Connecticut site. This included lead and other heavy metals, asbestos, chemical solvents, polychlorinated biphenyls, and many other toxic materials. The company had collected this toxic waste in shallow pools where it sat for decades.
Studies of the area found residents of Stratford had higher than average rates of certain cancers, including mesothelioma. This rate was particularly high for individuals under the age of twenty-five. Mesothelioma is rare in young people, and this indicated they had been exposed as children.
The EPA and other organizations have tested the site repeatedly and declared that toxic materials could contaminate people in the area through the air, soil, skin contact, and local seafood.
Residential properties were also contaminated. The EPA has listed the Raymark Industries manufacturing site in Stratford as a Superfund site. As of 2016, the site was in the final phase of the cleanup.
Raybestos products are still well known in the automotive industry. Although the brand is still sold, it comes with a long history of negligence and harm to human health. The asbestos trust for Raybestos, Raymark, and Raytech is currently active.
If the company caused or played a role in developing an asbestos illness, affected individuals could make a claim to seek adequate compensation. If you believe you have a valid claim, talk to a lawyer specializing in asbestos and mesothelioma.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.