Although health officials have known the risks of asbestosis for upwards of fifty years, many employers who manufactured these toxic products remained negligent in informing their employees and contractors of the risks.
Harmful Products and Health Consequences
Auto-industry workers from various companies became sick due to working with Dana’s car parts over the years. These parts were sold to vehicle production companies whose employees came into contact with asbestos-containing brake parts, seals, linings, and gaskets during the ordinary course of their workdays. Mechanics who worked on these vehicles were also at risk of toxic exposure.
Likewise, people who worked on their own vehicles also often became ill.
Lawsuits and Bankruptcy
Dana faced nearly 100,000 asbestos claims by the mid-2000s, which led the business into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. During the bankruptcy, a committee was formed to investigate the company’s finances regarding asbestosis claims. The committee determined that not enough funds had been set aside to cover the multitude of litigation and injury claims the company would face in the future.
As of 2010, Dana was already facing more than 30,000 asbestos-related claims. More than 10,000 claims had already reached a settlement, but those were a drop in the bucket. The committee ascertained that Dana Corporation would be held liable for many more claims throughout the next 15 years or so.
Because asbestos-related ailments can take decades to show symptoms, many people do not know they are sick until many years later. Thus, the committee recognized that many more people would likely become diagnosed with potentially deadly diseases from having worked with asbestos-based parts manufactured at Dana Corporation. These former employees and contractors would later have grounds to file their own claims.
Dana settled more than 7,000 claims related to asbestos-containing gaskets alone before 2008. The company has paid millions of dollars to settle claims overall and will likely continue to face litigation as more people continue to be diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases.
The company has set aside more than $30 billion in trust funds to pay victims and their surviving family members.
The Future of Dana Corporation
Asbestosis does not always show symptoms right away. Typically, a small amount of lung damage might be seen on an x-ray after ten or so years. But this small damage is not usually enough to diagnose a debilitating health problem that could result in a lawsuit. These diseases typically take decades to reach the point where the ailment is identifiable, and by that time the disease progresses rapidly.