Western MacArthur is an insulation company founded in 1967 with the merger of two older companies. Best known for its pipe insulation, Western MacArthur used asbestos for many years, which led to lawsuits over exposure and illness. Western MacArthur filed for bankruptcy in 2002 and reorganized in 2004.
MacArthur is an employee-owned company with headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota. After a period of bankruptcy and reorganization, the company re-emerged as MacArthur Company.
Today, MacArthur continues to focus on pipe insulation but also offers a wide range of construction materials and products. These products include mechanical insulation, waterproofing materials, siding, roofing, and HVAC materials.
Although Western MacArthur was founded in 1967, it has much older roots. The company formed as a merger between two older insulation companies, MacArthur Company and Western Asbestos. Founded in 1913, MacArthur Company was initially a small company that manufactured pipe insulation.
Like other companies that manufactured insulation and construction materials, Western MacArthur used asbestos in its products for many years.
As a result of their asbestos use, company employees and workers in other industries that used their products were potentially exposed to asbestos. Some developed related illnesses and sued the company for damages.
The extraordinary legal expenses eventually caused Western MacArthur to file for bankruptcy. As part of the bankruptcy, MacArthur formed a $2 billion trust to compensate victims. The company emerged from bankruptcy in 2004.
Asbestos Use by Western MacArthur
Asbestos was once commonly used in insulation and other building materials. This natural mineral has properties that make it well-suited for the construction industry. For example, asbestos is lightweight and easily molded into a variety of shapes. It also resists heat and electricity.
Western MacArthur specialized in pipe insulation made with asbestos. Through the 1970s, the company added asbestos to:
- Pipe insulation
- Duct board
- Fire blankets
- Roofing materials
- Protective coatings
However, the company also made other insulation construction products for both residential and commercial facilities.
Workers Exposed to Asbestos
Construction workers and homeowners who worked with or near Western MacArthur products that contained asbestos risked exposure and resulting illnesses.
Asbestos exposure can cause damage to tissues in the body. Over time, that damage can develop into mesothelioma, asbestosis, and asbestos lung cancer. As asbestos breaks into sharp tiny fibers, it often becomes airborne, where it is easily inhaled by anyone nearby. As an asbestos-containing product is manipulated, it often sheds these harmful fibers.
Western MacArthur workers were put at risk by handling asbestos used to manufacture its products. Workers in other industries were also at risk because they worked with the products that contained asbestos.
Construction workers were among those most affected. Carpenters, drywall installers, insulation installers, laborers, roofers, painters, and many others could have been exposed to asbestos by working with Western MacArthur products.
Also at risk were shipyard workers, maritime workers aboard ships, and U.S. Navy sailors and officers. Western MacArthur insulation was regularly used on both commercial and Navy ships. Western MacArthur was instrumental in building several ships and in repairing existing vessels.
Many years of asbestos use in construction and ship materials eventually resulted in lawsuits against Western MacArthur. These were brought by workers exposed to asbestos and by families of those who died from asbestos-related illnesses.
One example is a case filed by a widow. Her husband worked for Western Asbestos before the 1967 merger with MacArthur. In 1977, he was diagnosed with asbestosis and mesothelioma. As a result of these illnesses, he died in 1978. It took his widow nearly ten years, but she eventually won her case.
Bankruptcy and Formation of Asbestos Trust
The numerous cases against Western MacArthur were costly and eventually resulted in bankruptcy. Thousands of lawsuits taxed the company’s assets, causing Western MacArthur to file for chapter 11 in 2002. In 2004, the company emerged reorganized as MacArthur Company.
The bankruptcy agreement required Western MacArthur to fund an asbestos trust to compensate victims who claimed the company was liable for an asbestos illness. The fund is called the Western Asbestos Settlement Trust. The company funded it with $2 billion. It is still active and accepting claims today.
Western MacArthur caused significant harm to individuals and families by using asbestos in its products. Although it has paid out millions in settlements, money does little to make up for the losses families have experienced. If you believe insulation or other MacArthur products contributed to your mesothelioma, you can work with a lawyer to make a claim with the Western Asbestos Settlement Trust.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.