Shook & Fletcher Asbestos
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Founded in 1901, Shook & Fletcher manufactured asbestos insulation. The company eventually faced numerous lawsuits and settlements over asbestos exposure and resulting illnesses. Shook & Fletcher sought bankruptcy protection, and in 2002 established an asbestos trust to fund victims’ claims.
Shook & Fletcher History and Asbestos
Shook & Fletcher was founded in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1901. The company originally supported the region’s booming steel industry by producing brick, coal, and iron products.
- In 1949, Shook & Fletcher broke into the insulation industry. In 1967, a group of employees bought Shook & Fletcher, and it has been family-owned ever since.
- Shook & Fletcher began making insulation when asbestos use was common. The company used asbestos in most of its insulation products for decades. Shook & Fletcher used asbestos until the 1970s.
- Although the company replaced dangerous asbestos with less harmful materials, Shook & Fletcher experienced an influx of asbestos-related lawsuits.
- The lawsuits and their accompanying costs eventually drove the company to bankruptcy court in 2002. Shook & Fletcher survived bankruptcy and established an asbestos trust to compensate asbestos victims, and today it is a leading supplier of insulation in the southeast.
Today, the company is a leading distributor of a wide range of insulation products in the southeastern United States. Although company headquarters are located in Birmingham, Alabama, Shook & Fletcher also has distribution centers in Atlanta and Decatur, Georgia, Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tennessee, and Mobile, Alabama.
Shook & Fletcher fabricates custom insulation products and offers a diverse range of pre-made insulation. Other products include thermal mesh, cement, cloth, glass, ceramics, tape, metal, wool, fittings, and fiberglass.
How Did Shook & Fletcher Use Asbestos?
For years, Shook & Fletcher used asbestos to manufacture many of its insulation products. Asbestos use in the insulation industry was common because it was abundant, inexpensive, and one of the most effective known insulators.
Asbestos has been used for millennia, but never on the scale used in the twentieth century. With its natural ability to resist heat, asbestos was heavily used in the insulation industry for many years.
Shook & Fletcher Asbestos Products
For Shook & Fletcher, asbestos made their products effective insulators but also increased their durability. Shook & Fletcher used asbestos in:
- Insulating cement
- Curtain wall insulation
- Plastic jacketing
- Mineral fiber pipe
In addition to the materials the company manufactured, components of their fabricating equipment likely contained asbestos to prevent overheating.
Workers at Risk of Asbestos Exposure From Shook & Fletcher Products
Many workers risked asbestos exposure because of the products once made by Shook & Fletcher. Exposure occurs when someone inhales or ingests microscopic asbestos fibers, which happens most easily when someone works with asbestos.
Shook & Fletcher employees who made the materials with asbestos were at risk of inhaling asbestos fibers that became airborne as they handled the mineral.
Since the insulation was used across a range of industries, many people were put at risk. Other industry workers were also put at risk of exposure, especially anyone who worked with or around the company’s insulation:
- Insulation installers
- Drywall workers
- Construction workers
- Maintenance workers
- Boiler workers
- Workers in shipyards
- Workers in oil refineries
- Power plant workers
- Steel mill workers
In these other industries, workers may have been exposed when Shook & Fletcher products were installed, maintained, or repaired.
Secondhand asbestos exposure often occurred when workers like these brought asbestos fibers home on their clothing. Not aware of the risks, they didn’t change clothes or take other steps to prevent carrying asbestos home.
Family members of these workers risked asbestos exposure. Some even got sick years later, developing mesothelioma and other illnesses.
Asbestos Lawsuits Against Shook & Fletcher
Once asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, they can lodge in tissues and cause damage over time. For some people, this damage can lead to a devastating type of cancer called mesothelioma.
Others exposed to asbestos may develop lung cancer or a progressive type of scarring in the lungs called asbestosis.
Because Shook & Fletcher used asbestos for many years, thousands of people claimed the company was liable for their illnesses. These people filed lawsuits against the company looking for justice and compensation.
Beginning in the 1970s, Shook & Fletcher began fighting these lawsuits, but they paid out big settlements in many cases. In one notable case, a widow received an award of $8.4 million after her husband died from mesothelioma. He had worked as an insulator for Shook & Fletcher and other companies.
In 1993, the company also battled its insurance companies, hoping to get the money needed to settle claims. Although this lawsuit went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, Shook & Fletcher lost.
Bankruptcy and Reorganization
By 2002, the costs of covering claims settlements became too much for Shook & Fletcher to handle financially.
Despite ongoing success with non-asbestos insulation, Shook & Fletcher could not cover the claims being made. The company successfully reorganized and continued to manufacture insulation products.
It also created an asbestos trust as part of a reorganization. This trust is called the Shook & Fletcher Asbestos Settlement Trust and was established to pay current and future victims of asbestos exposure.
The current payment percentage for the Shook & Fletcher trust is 50%, higher than for most asbestos trusts. The trust holds back funds to ensure it will be able to compensate future claimants.
If You Were Exposed to Shook & Fletcher Asbestos Products
If you believe you were exposed to asbestos through insulation made by Shook & Fletcher, you can file a claim with the asbestos trust. Work with an experienced mesothelioma and asbestos lawyer to help you make your claim and get the compensation you deserve.
A lawyer can also determine if any other companies are responsible for your illness and can be held accountable. Most people with mesothelioma were exposed through many different products. You could be eligible for claims with other trusts or even a lawsuit to seek a settlement or jury award.Get Your FREE Mesothelioma Packet
Page Written by Mary Ellen Ellis
Mary Ellen Ellis has been the head writer for Mesothelioma.net since 2016. With hundreds of mesothelioma and asbestos articles to her credit, she is one of the most experienced writers on these topics. Her degrees and background in science and education help her explain complicated medical topics for a wider audience. Mary Ellen takes pride in providing her readers with the critical information they need following a diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness.
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.