The Flintkote Company and Flintkote Mines operated for decades, making products for the construction industry that included asbestos. This led to lawsuits against Flintkote, brought by people who worked with their products and later developed mesothelioma or lung cancer. Flintkote eventually filed for bankruptcy and only stayed open to compensate asbestos exposure victims and settle claims.
Flintkote was founded in 1901 and was incorporated in 1917. Based in Massachusetts, the company focused on producing roofing materials and was most well-known for its asphalt roofing shingles.
Although it remained mostly known for roofing over the years, in the 1920s, Flintkote began to expand into Europe and more diverse product lines. These included:
- Asphalt road emulsions
- Asbestos shingles
- Asbestos siding
- Cement pipes
Flintkote went public in 1936 as it continued to develop its product line, adding boxes and packaging materials in the 1940s. In the 1950s, the company further expanded by acquiring other companies. This introduced paper products, gypsum products, and other asbestos-containing products to the company’s offerings.
The expansion continued until the 1960s when Flintkote operated nearly 150 plants across the U.S. and other countries. Flintkote remained mostly focused on asphalt and roofing materials even though they had a diversified products line.
Over the years that it operated and made these products, Flintkote used a lot of asbestos. This finally caught up to the company in the 1980s and 1990s. Although the risks of asbestos were already well known by this time, Flintkote didn’t stop using the mineral until 1982.
Flintkote faced many lawsuits over asbestos exposure and illness. It sold many of its assets and factories to cover the costs of settlements. Finally, the company filed for bankruptcy and today exists solely to administer settlements and claims for asbestos victims.
Asbestos Use by Flintkote
Flintkote, like other companies that provided materials for the construction industry between the 1930s and 1970s, used asbestos in many of its products because of its useful and unique properties.
Roofing materials, for instance, needed to be fireproof. This mineral that we now know to be so harmful was initially used in many applications to protect people. For this reason, the asphalt shingles and other roofing materials Flintkote made were laden with asbestos.
Another reason that asbestos was used so heavily in construction materials was its insulating ability. Flintkote made wallboard, siding, joint compound, and other materials with asbestos to help make homes and other buildings better able to keep heat in and to make heating or cooling buildings more cost-effective and efficient.
One of Flintkote’s products that contained a lot of asbestos for this purpose was called Thermalkote. This liquid coating could be added to building surfaces to create a waterproof, insulating layer. Other Flintkote products that likely contained asbestos include cement, pipes, paper products, packaging, and containers.
Asbestos Exposure in Workers
Asbestos exposure is a very serious health concern. Not all exposed people will end up sick, but some do, and why this happens to some people and not others is not well understood.
What is well known is that the resulting illnesses develop over many years, are difficult to diagnose and treat, and are ultimately terminal diseases.
Asbestos exposure can cause a type of cancer called mesothelioma, it contributes to and causes some types of lung cancer, and asbestos can cause a lung scarring disease called asbestosis.
Exposure occurs when time, deterioration, or damage disturbs the small fibers of asbestos. They become part of the dust in the air. From there, workers can unknowingly inhale or even ingest the needle-like fibers. Over the years, they may cause damage in the body that leads to the illnesses described above.
Any workers who manufactured products with asbestos, including those who worked in Flintkote factories, were at risk of asbestos exposure. Also at risk were the workers in other industries that used Flintkote’s asbestos products.
Its asbestos-containing construction materials put various workers at risk, including carpenters, roofers, drywall installers, laborers, and road workers. Plumbers and pipefitters may also have worked with Flintkote pipes. Even workers who did not directly handle these products, but were on the job site, could have inhaled asbestos fibers.
Asbestos Lawsuits and Bankruptcy
As early as the 1970s, Flintkote already faced asbestos lawsuits. Asbestos illnesses can remain latent for decades, so the cases began in the 1970s and continue today as workers begin to realize they were exposed and became sick due to inhaling asbestos fibers.
By the 1980s, Flintkote would stop using asbestos, but much of the damage was already done by this time. The company struggled to pay the costs associated with the thousands of lawsuits and was forced to start selling its plants and other assets by the 1980s.
The company essentially stopped making and selling products thanks to the high costs of litigation, but it kept settling claims without major incidents until 2001.
By this time, Flintkote’s insurance company began to refuse to pay claims. The company had no choice but to file for bankruptcy. Flintkote filed in 2004 and also established a trust to compensate future victims.
This fund is called the Flintkote Company and Flintkote Mines Limited Asbestos Personal Injury Trust and was created with $214 million. Flintkote had spent $630 million on lawsuits and settlements before filing for bankruptcy.
The Flintkote Company caused a great deal of damage by using asbestos for so many years. It harmed individuals, but it also ultimately destroyed the company, which could no longer operate or manufacture products after being forced to sell assets. If you think you got sick because of the asbestos in Flintkote roofing or other materials, you may have a valid claim to make, and a good asbestos lawyer can help you do it.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.