Kentile’s asbestos-containing tile was made of asphalt, rubber, and cork, but these tiles also contained asbestos powder, fiber, and adhesive backing. Their product line was distributed under the name brands of Kenlite, Kenrubber, Kencork, and Kenflex.
The asbestos-laden tile was easy-to-clean and resistant, but it also caused pulmonary disease and mesothelioma. Kentile Floors filed bankruptcy in the early 1990s due to many legal suits from ill people exposed to the tiling through their jobs.
Harmful Exposures and Health Consequences
Tile workers became sick from installing and tearing up old asbestos-containing tile during construction and renovation. Plumbers and contract workers whose jobs involved carpentry, painting, and electrical work were also exposed to the harmful fibers throughout the course of their careers. Factory workers at Kentile likewise became ill, as did consumers who did home repair jobs in their own residences.
Kentile Floors Becomes Metex Manufacturing Company
After filing bankruptcy in 1992, Kentile Floors reorganized to become Metex Manufacturing Company. This new company also went bankrupt and created a trust to pay off asbestos claims by 2015. The bankruptcy halted litigation against the business, which meant that people who were sick and those whose family members had died of mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis would need to seek compensation outside of the court system.
Once bankrupt, these companies are allowed by the courts to put a limit on how much each claim will be paid out for. Claims for mesothelioma, the deadliest cancer to result from asbestos exposure, are paid at the highest rate due to the high medical expenses and terminal nature of the disease.
In 2014, Brooklyn news reports indicated that the worn-out Kentile Floors sign left hanging by scaffolding at the former factory located at Ninth Street and Second Avenue was a grim reminder to the community of how many people fell ill from working there over the years.
In operation since the late 1800s, business took off for Kentile after World War II, when asbestos-laden products were commonly produced and distributed without consideration for their long-term health consequences.1
Metex Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
Though the federal government and corporations knew since the 1970s that the risk of developing asbestos-related disease was serious for factory workers working with asbestos, these workers were seldom aware of the risk themselves.
As this cancer has a long latency period, mesothelioma often is not diagnosed until 20 to 40 years after exposure to asbestos. It is likely that as more former workers are diagnosed, Kentile will be forced to pay more claims through the Metex Asbestos PI Trust.2