Harmful Products and Health Consequences
Anyone who worked in manufacturing products at M.H. Detrick Company during the years the company produced asbestos-containing materials was at risk for becoming ill, as research now shows that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. People who worked on furnaces or incinerators at other companies were also at risk if the furnaces were made using parts produced and distributed by Detrick or other companies that used asbestos-based materials.
Family members of those who worked with these products have often become ill and died from secondhand exposure.1
Patent applications for the company dating back to 1924 and 1932 confirm how the company used asbestos-based products for furnace construction. A 1924 patent specifies that the frames that support the bricks that build up to form a sheathing should be “packed with” asbestos insulation.2 A 1932 patent states that expansion space should be “filled with a suitable compressible material, such as a mixture of asbestos and fire clay, to seal the joint.”3
According to case law, the M.H. Detrick Company was sued by multiple parties in the 1980s who became diseased by working with Detrick’s asbestos-based products. Inhaling the material through the lungs and absorbing it through the skin can cause cancer like mesothelioma, a slow-to-form disease that has often progressed to an advanced stage once diagnosed.
The company entered into an agreement in 1988 with insurance companies to pay for the damage until the limits of that agreement were exhausted a few years later.4
Bankruptcy and an Asbestos Trust
The M.H. Detrick Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1988 after facing litigation for exposing workers to working conditions that led to pulmonary cancer, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related diseases. According to the company’s “Asbestos in Buildings Claims Resolution Procedures” document filed in connection with the Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan, Detrick produced and sold asbestos-laden products from 1939 until 1964.
These products included various types of insulation and cement. This document explains that future asbestos claims will be paid out of a dedicated trust fund, as is standard in bankruptcy cases in which a lot of litigation has occurred due to asbestos exposure.