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The Flintkote Company

The Flintkote Company and its partner company Flintkote mines, operated for decades making products for the construction industry that included asbestos. Originally a maker of roofing and road building materials, Flintkote eventually expanded its product line to include other construction materials like cements and joint compounds among others. It also grew by acquiring other businesses and product lines.

The early use of asbestos in roofing and other products inevitably led to lawsuits against Flintkote, brought by people who worked with their products and later developed mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer. These lawsuits led to Flintkote closing its doors, filing for bankruptcy, and only staying open as a business in order to settle claims and compensate asbestos exposure victims.

Company History

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 was to remain mostly known for roofing over the years, in the 1920s Flintkote began to expand into Europe and into more diverse product lines. These included asphalt road emulsions, asbestos shingles and siding, and asbestos cement products, including cement pipe.

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. Expansion went on until by the 1960s Flintkote operated nearly 150 plants across the U.S. and in other countries. In spite of its diversified products line, Flintkote remained most focused on roofing materials and asphalt.

Over the years that it operated and made these products, Flintkote used a lot of asbestos and 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. The last year the company distributed any asbestos products was in 1984. Flintkote faced many lawsuits over asbestos exposure and illness and had to sell many of its assets and factories to cover the costs of settlements. Finally the company filed for bankruptcy and today exists solely to administer claims and settlements for asbestos victims.

Asbestos Use by Flintkote

Flintkote, like other companies that provided materials for the construction industry between the 1930ss and 1970s, used asbestos in many of its products because of its unique and useful properties. A major reason that asbestos was used in roofing materials, for instance, was for fireproofing. This mineral that we now know to be so harmful was initially used in many applications to protect people. The asphalt shingles and other roofing materials Flintkote made were laden with asbestos for this reason.

Another reason that asbestos was used so heavily in construction materials was for 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 efficient and cost-effective. One of Flintkote’s products that contained a lot of asbestos for this purpose was called Thermalkote. This was a liquid coating that could be added to building surfaces to create a waterproof, insulating layer. Other Flintkote products that likely contained asbestos include cement, pipes, paper products, and packaging and containers.

Asbestos Exposure in Workers

Asbestos exposure is a very serious health concern. Not all people who are exposed 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 the small fibers of the mineral are disturbed in some way, often by workers handling the material. This causes them to come loose and become part of the dust in the air. From there, workers can unknowingly inhale or even ingest the needle-like fibers. Over years the fibers may cause damage in the body that leads to the illnesses described.

Any workers that manufactured products with asbestos, including those that worked in Flintkote factories, were at risk of asbestos exposure. Also at risk were the workers in other industries that used Flintkote asbestos products. Its asbestos-containing construction materials put a variety of workers at risk, including carpenters, drywall installers, roofers, laborers, and road workers. Pipefitters and plumbers may also have worked with Flintkote pipes. Even workers that did not directly handle these products, but were on the job site, could have inhaled asbestos fibers.

Asbestos Lawsuits and Bankruptcy

Flintkote was already seeing asbestos lawsuits in the 1970s. Asbestos illnesses can remain latent for decades, so the lawsuits began in the 1970s and continue today as workers begin to realize they were exposed and became sick as a result of inhaling asbestos fibers. By the 1980s Flintkote would stop using asbestos, but by this time much of the damage was already done. 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 paying claims. The company had no choice but to file for bankruptcy. Flintkote and Flintkote jointly 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 crated with $214 million. Before filing for bankruptcy, Flintkote had spent $630 million on lawsuits and settlements.

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 that 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.

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