By the 1950s, three of Ehret’s workmen had already passed away from asbestosis-related pulmonary problems. Ehret was bought out by Keene Corporation in 1968 and continued to use toxic insulation even after learning of the dangers.
Harmful Products and Health Consequences
Ehret Magnesia specialized in thermal pipe insulation that contained carcinogens but also used toxic cement, gaskets, millboard, and sponges that caused the company’s contractors and workers to become ill. People who installed, maintained, deconstructed or performed overhauls of other products or machinery that contained Ehret’s insulation also were at risk for devastating diseases that are often incurable.
Over the years, scientific research conducted by the federal government and independent researchers has shown there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Although company executives were well aware of the dangers of mesothelioma and other types of cancer linked to asbestos exposure, Ehret did not inform employees of the hazards they encountered each day while doing their jobs.
Keene stopped production in 1970 after facing litigation. Six years later, the federal government acquired the land.
Lawsuits, Bankruptcy, and an Asbestos Trust
In 1971, Keene began facing mesothelioma and asbestosis related litigation from former workers who demanded to be compensated for their illnesses, all of which were sustained from manufacturing and otherwise working with Ehret’s products. Some of these lawsuits were filed by surviving family members whose loved ones had died of malignancies.
Other lawsuits were filed by former workers who suffered insulation-related exposure that caused them permanent lung damage. In 1993, more than a hundred thousand asbestosis injury claims later, Keene filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. The toxic products made so many people sick that the court required the company to set aside a $45 million fund to compensate victims.
his fund would be used exclusively to settle the many claims the company faced due to its toxic products.
The Future of Ehret Magnesia
Because mesothelioma can take so many decades to show symptoms, it is likely that more former employees of Ehret who have not yet become ill still will develop illness at some point. Some people take more than 50 years for the cancer to form in their lungs. Other pulmonary problems develop more quickly but often aren’t associated with exposure from a job someone worked so many years ago.