In the 1990s, Rock Wool Manufacturing was sued by hundreds of thousands of workers and was found to be negligent of not putting hazard warnings on its products.
After this precedent was set, and the company was required to pay large verdicts, Rock Wool settled many of its further legal complaints outside the courts until the mid-90s when the financial burden became too much. The company filed bankruptcy in 1996 and created a trust to settle future asbestos claims.
Harmful Products and Health Consequences
Rock Wool Manufacturing Company made One Shot and High Temp brands of Insulating Cement from the 1950s until the 1970s. The cement was standard in pipes utilized in power plants and shipyards.
The pipes were often lined with asbestos, which created toxic dust and fibers if the piping was removed or worked on. People working around this type of piping were vulnerable to inhaling the harmful dust into their lungs. These working conditions prior to the 1970s often led people to develop asbestosis, which could typically show lung damage on chest x-ray within 10 to 40 years of asbestos exposure. Over time, some people who worked in asbestosis-inducing environments developed mesothelioma, one of the rarest, most aggressive and deadliest asbestos-related diseases.
Emerging from Bankruptcy and Making Amends
Rock Wool Manufacturing Company reorganized in 1999 and created the Rock Wool Asbestos Trust. The trust was active until 2011 when the last open claim filing period ended. The company eventually stopped utilizing asbestos-based cement and insulation, but these materials were still present in shipyards and plants.
The piping eventually went out of code when the federal government began banning the use of asbestos-based materials, which meant that someone had to tear out the toxic materials and replace them with non-toxic insulation and cement.