The business later diversified its products to target industries outside the railroad business. Their products were sold under the brand names Flexseal, Gylon, and Blue-Gard and included hydraulic components, compression packing materials, and expansion joints.
The company’s products were used in the aerospace industry, food technology, and a myriad of other industries that used gaskets and sealing in their manufacturing and production.
Harmful Products and Health Consequences
Many of Garlock’s products contained asbestos, a material used for years as a fireproof and heat-resistant component that was thought to be cost-effective. Asbestos-containing products are now known to be linked to mesothelioma, lung cancer, and a variety of pulmonary problems that sometimes take more than two decades to show symptoms. Inhaling asbestos-containing products causes the dust and tiny fibers to embed in the lungs where they slowly do damage.
Once diagnosed, most people do not recover as there is no cure for asbestos-related disease. The company used the toxic carcinogen in its products throughout most of the 1900s, thereby exposing hundreds of thousands of people to potential illness.
Lawsuits and Bankruptcy
The company faced hundreds of thousands of asbestosis and mesothelioma lawsuits, many of which settled for more than $100 million. Pipe-fitters and boiler mechanics successfully sued the company after developing deadly cancer and other pulmonary diseases due to exposure. Faced with so many asbestosis claims and personal injury lawsuits, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2010.
GST Settlement Facility Asbestos Trust
Those affected by exposure span a variety of industries and occupations. Factory workers, electricians, insulation workers, engineers, and miners have all sued based on exposure to various products made by the company. Because their products were used by so many industries and companies for decades, Garlock’s company has been sued more often than almost any company for asbestos-related injuries and deaths.
Employers and manufacturers were well aware of the dangers of asbestos-containing products to employees and consumers well before the 1970s when federal laws began to crack down and require safety procedures to be implemented for employees working with such toxic materials. Companies neglected to inform their workers of the risks.