People who worked in manufacturing the materials, installing insulation, fitting pipes, working in boilers, and installing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning were among those most likely to become ill from interacting with Amatex’s products.
The company went bankrupt in 1982 because many people sued Amatex for causing asbestosis, pulmonary disease, and mesothelioma cancer.
Harmful Products and Health Consequences
Asbestos textile manufacturers did not inform workers or people who utilized their products of the health dangers associated with them. Research conducted by the Asbestos Textile Institute (ATI) in 1947 showed that textile workers who worked with asbestos-laden products had a higher risk of developing asbestosis than other workers and were dying at increased rates.
Although the ATI research showed that the industry should cut down on or limit the amount of asbestos exposure, they did not act on the recommendation because the group felt it would damage the industry if the public found out.
By 1970, the federal government began reconsidering whether asbestos exposure was safe for people like textile workers. Further research showed that any amount of exposure could lead to mesothelioma and other diseases, and the government began banning many forms of asbestos-laden products in any amount.
For this reason, corporations like Amatex phased out their utilization of asbestosis-inducing fibers for insulation and began replacing the heat-resistant material with safer alternatives. Unfortunately, this government ban and industry change came too late to save many people from the damage that had already been done from decades of asbestos exposure.
Lawsuits, Bankruptcy, and Amatex Asbestos Trust
Before filing bankruptcy, Amatex Corporation had already paid out millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts over asbestos-related diseases and wrongful deaths. According to paperwork filed in the bankruptcy, Amatex claimed its insurance policies had already paid out $2,581,292 in indemnity contributions for asbestos liability and that Amatex had paid approximately $5,366,810 to defend asbestos-related lawsuits by 1983.
Due to bankruptcy, Amatex’s liability for future asbestosis damage was limited. While those who were injured and killed would have the ability to file proofs of claim, they could no longer file lawsuits against Amatex for compensation for mesothelioma care and the deaths of their family members. In many cases, people are not diagnosed with mesothelioma for several decades after the last incident of exposure.
Thus, people who worked with Amatex’s carcinogenic products often did not know they had cancer. In 1990, Amatex emerged from bankruptcy and created the Amatex Asbestos Trust to cover future claims. Since mesothelioma takes an average of 20 to 40 years to develop, it is likely that more people who came into contact with the toxic textiles will be diagnosed.1