The Rock Wool Manufacturing Company makes industrial, residential, and maritime insulation products, which in past decades included asbestos. Rock Wool insulation caused exposure to asbestos in thousands of workers, some of whom got sick. Lawsuits against the company led to bankruptcy in 1999, followed by reorganization and establishing a trust to compensate victims.
About Rock Wool Manufacturing
Rock Wool Manufacturing Company Inc. is a large successful company that manufactures insulation products sold under the Delta brand. The industries the company serves include industrial, residential, commercial, and marine.
Rock Wool makes various insulating products, including mineral board, metal mesh blankets, lamella, soundproofing and fireproofing board, safing board, deck plugs, marine board, and a variety of pipe insulation products.
Rock Wool Manufacturing Company was founded in Leeds, Alabama, in 1943. The company originally made blown glass insulation.
By the 1950s, Rock Wool expanded to produce a variety of insulation using different materials. Products included board insulation, blown insulation, and insulating cements. The company introduced a range of pipe insulation products later.
Between 1958 and 1970, Rock Wool used asbestos in its cement products. For an even longer period, the company used asbestos to manufacture its insulation products.
In 1980, the company discontinued asbestos use but continued to manufacture insulation with safer materials. Asbestos use exposed many workers to this potentially dangerous mineral, ultimately leading to a flood of expensive lawsuits.
In 1996, Rock Wool filed for bankruptcy to survive. This was followed by reorganization and the establishment of an asbestos trust for victims. The company still exists today and serves industrial, commercial, marine, and residential industries.
Many insulation manufacturers once used asbestos in products. This natural mineral was valuable in manufacturing for millennia because it has insulating and fireproofing qualities; additionally, asbestos is abundant, inexpensive, durable, and lightweight. Asbestos is also easy to mold and shape, properties that are also useful in insulation.
Rock Wool used asbestos in many insulation products; however, One Shot Insulating Cement and Delta Maid Cement are two well-known products with documented asbestos.
Other cements made by the company are likely to have contained asbestos and were primarily used for pipe insulation and other applications.
Thousands of people were put at risk for asbestos exposure because of these few products. Workers in Rock Wool’s manufacturing facilities were at particular risk because they handled the asbestos during the manufacturing process. As asbestos is manipulated, it sheds sharp microscopic fibers.
Because these fibers are tiny and lightweight, they become part of the dust that floats in the air and settles on surfaces. When ingested or inhaled, these fibers cause tissue damage that can cause cancer or asbestosis in some people.
In addition to Rock Wool employees, workers in other industries who used their products were also likely exposed. Construction workers were most often affected. Others affected include maritime workers, shipyard and naval workers, workers in industrial plants, power plants, factories, boiler rooms, and petroleum refineries.
Rock Wool faced thousands of lawsuits over the asbestos in their products and the illnesses that resulted from exposure. The company had some of these lawsuits dismissed, but many ended in settlements or went to trial with the jury finding in favor of the asbestos victims.
One example occurred in 1994 when seven former shipyard workers sued Rock Wool and other asbestos product companies. The seven workers developed either asbestosis or lung cancer after decades of working with asbestos-containing materials. The court found in their favor, assigning part of the liability to Rock Wool.
In a 1995 case, a man named Samuel Jackson and his wife filed a suit against Rock Wool and other companies that made asbestos materials. Jackson worked in a North Carolina power plant where he worked with insulation and other materials that contained asbestos. He later developed mesothelioma, and his successful suit assigned part of the blame to Rock Wool.
These two lawsuits are just two examples out of thousands of lawsuits that cost Rock Wool a lot of money, leading to bankruptcy and reorganization.
Bankruptcy and Asbestos Trust
After facing thousands of lawsuits and ultimately paying settlements and damages to victims, Rock Wool Manufacturing found itself in a difficult spot. Courts found the company liable because it failed to warn workers and customers that the asbestos in their products could make them sick.
As a result, the company filed for bankruptcy in 1996 and reorganized in 1999. The reorganization included the establishment of an asbestos trust called the Rock Wool Manufacturing Company Asbestos Trust. The trust is administered alongside others and is not always open for claims.
Consult with an asbestos lawyer if you have a claim against Rock Wool for asbestos exposure and a resulting illness. They can help determine if the trust is prepared to pay out claims at this time. A qualified lawyer can also help you decide what to do if the trust is not active.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.