The business started out making fireproof bricks for metal and glass factories throughout Missouri but later expanded to producing other refractory products. Like many similar companies, A.P. Green Industries used asbestos in its products because of its fireproof and heat-resistant properties.
Harmful Products and Health Consequences
The company used asbestos-containing products primarily from 1940 until 1970. These toxic products included cement, insulation adhesive and coating, and plastic that was used in furnaces, ovens, and boilers. Their product brands included Therm-O-Flake Coating, Lo Abrade GR, Steelkon, and Greencast.
Manufacturing workers were at the highest risk of being exposed to asbestos-containing products. They spent their days touching and inhaling materials that were by this time known to be toxic. However, employers like A.P. Green Industries were negligent in not informing their workers of the risks associated with inhaling asbestos-containing fibers and dust.
Lawsuits, Bankruptcy, and an Asbestos Trust
Numerous mesothelioma lawsuits and asbestosis claims led A.P. Green Industries to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2002. Between 1995 and 2007, former employees filed more than 300,000 asbestosis claims against the company. The company’s affiliates, Harbison-Walker and Global Industrial Technologies, likewise faced so many claims that they ended up in bankruptcy. A.P. established an asbestos claim trust fund as part of the bankruptcy proceedings and began to accept injury claims in 2014 to settle with victims for their illnesses.
The company has paid around $450 million to resolve more than 200,000 asbestos-related claims involving pulmonary cancer and mesothelioma.
Like most companies by the 1970s, A.P. Green Industries was well aware that they were putting their employees in harm’s way by exposing them to such dangerous working conditions. The federal government had long previously issued warnings and proposed safety guidelines to try to keep workers safe.
Many companies that knowingly exposed their workers to asbestos-containing products on a daily basis chose to send their employees to get chest x-rays once per year and hoped that the financial losses would be minimal due to lawsuits from illnesses versus the money they would lose by not manufacturing asbestos-containing products.