The company is well-known for building Europe’s original steam turbine and high-speed locomotive, as well as gas-insulated switchgears for circuit breakers for the gas and oil industries. The company also manufactures power systems and power products. Their products often contained asbestos, which was commonly used as a fire-resistant material for insulation, gaskets, and valves.
A.B.B. Lummus Global Inc. has faced litigation and financial trouble over the years due to its asbestos-containing products, as the material is now known for causing deadly health problems such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
Harmful Products and Health Consequences
Engineers, factory workers, metal workers, and machinists were particularly at risk for asbestosis due to the nature of their jobs that required them to come into regular contact with carcinogens. As was the case with many similar employers, A.B.B. Lummus did not inform its workers of the dangers of asbestos exposure. This negligence left the employers responsible for the injuries and illnesses of their workers and contractors, because these sicknesses and deaths could have been prevented.
Health departments across the United States began warning employers many decades ago of the risks associated with asbestos-containing products, but government-issued safety guidelines were not enough to protect workers and were sometimes entirely disregarded by companies.
Today we know that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure and that diseases like mesothelioma can surface decades later from exposure to breathing in the dust and fibers of the toxic material.
Lawsuits, Bankruptcy, and an Asbestos Trust
A.B.B. Lummus Global Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in 2006 because the company was facing insurmountable financial struggles after so many asbestos claims were filed by people who had been made ill and died from the company’s products. Subsidiaries of the company also chose to file for Chapter 11 reorganization for the same reasons.
By 2005, the companies were facing hundreds of thousands of asbestos injury claims from former employees and their surviving families. During the bankruptcy, A.B.B. was forced to create a billion-dollar trust fund to pay victims and their estates. The company’s employees and contractors continued to file claims, which were capped at varying financial amounts depending on the type of claim. A.B.B. sold its subsidiary Lummus Global to CB&I, a Texas company, for more than $900 million in 2007 in order to generate enough funds into the trust to pay victims.1