Asbestos – The Stunning Truth that Kills Millions

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that lines a person’s organs and is the result of lead paint and asbestos exposure and… rarely, radiation exposure.

Throughout the 20th century, millions of tons of asbestos were mined in our country and put in thousands of products. Asbestos was very inexpensive and was used as filler in many different products. For example, asbestos was used in cements, drywall muds, brake and clutch linings, roof shingles, gaskets, flooring products, paints, textiles and insulation. Smoking does not cause mesothelioma.

Generally, it takes 20 to 50 years from the time of asbestos exposure until symptoms appear or mesothelioma is diagnosed. This time is called the “latency” period.

The companies that used asbestos knew as early as 1925 that asbestos was dangerous to the workers, to their families, and to the public. The companies commissioned medical studies that revealed these dangers. But these same companies chose profits over safety and hid these studies. They provided no warnings about the dangers. And as a result, thousands of Americans have been killed by asbestos.

Sadly, in the United States, asbestos use increased dramatically as other properties of asbestos were recognized. For example, asbestos was used as filler in many plastics and adhesives (glues) on tiles.

Asbestos was used in paper production in order to obtain a higher grade of paper with a lower grade of pulp. Immediately before and after World War II, brakes, clutches, building plasters, cements, shingles, insulation, drywall joint compounds and textured paints commonly contained asbestos.

Almost any building material over 30 years of age may contain or be attached to some type of asbestos containing product. In the United States, in 1917, Dr. Henry K. Pancoast, of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, observed lung scarring in the X-rays of fifteen asbestos-factory workers.

In 1918, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published a report by an insurance statistician noting the unusually early deaths of asbestos workers and revealing that it had become common practice for insurers to deny coverage for workers because of the “assumed health-injurious conditions” in the asbestos industry. By the 1930s, asbestos manufacturers and their insurance companies knew that asbestos was killing workers at alarming rates.

In 1934, Aetna insurance company published the Attorney’s Textbook of Medicine, which devoted a full chapter to asbestos exposure, noting that asbestosis was “incurable and usually results in total permanent disability followed by death.”

So severe were the hazards of asbestos that by the eve of World War II, asbestos manufacturing was in decline. The war, however, reversed the fortunes of the asbestos industry and launched an era of massive use of asbestos in ships that led to an explosion of asbestos products for the next three decades.

In the book, Outrageous Misconduct: The Asbestos Industry on Trial, written by Paul Brodeur. The author showed that nothing proves the culpability of the asbestos manufacturers in the death and injury of asbestos workers quite like internal documents from the companies themselves.

These papers, just a handful of which are show here for the first time on National Television… prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the companies and their insurers knew the hazards of asbestos and concealed this information from workers for decades.

More than any other piece of evidence, it is the companies’ own internal papers that have convinced juries of citizens across the country that workers and their families deserve compensation to help them manage the severe and often fatal health consequences of working with asbestos.

The push by defendant industries to establish a national asbestos victims trust fund was driven in large part by the fact that ‘courts consistently find asbestos companies guilty, not just of exposing their workers to a substance — asbestos — that could kill or severely injure them, but of doing this with full knowledge of the fatal consequences of their actions, and of actively concealing this truth from these same workers.’

The 1966 comments of the Director of Purchasing for Bendix Corporation, now a part of Honeywell, capture the complete disregard of an industry for its workforce that is expressed over and over again in company documents spanning the past 60 years.

“…if you have enjoyed a good life while working with asbestos products, why not die from it.” — 1966 Bendix Corporation letter

In court cases after court cases, insurance and manufacturing company documents were made public through litigation. These papers reveal a brazen disregard for the men and women who, by the 1960s, were dying by the thousands each year for these businesses, a history of abuse and deception that is unparalleled in American industrial history.

In large measure, it is the written words of these company executives that have convinced juries across America those workers and their families deserve full compensation for their suffering.

In 1980, the American Insurance Association predicted that there would be between 8,000 and 13,000 claims a year from asbestos-caused cancer from 1977 through 1995.  In 1968, The Travelers Insurance Company concluded that they faced major financial exposure from deaths due to non-occupational asbestos exposure near asbestos manufacturing facilities.

That conclusion was confirmed when a Manville attorney informed the Travelers that:

“Confidentially Johns-Manville has been contaminating the ‘Hell’ out of both the air and the water for quite some time.”

Dr. Smith, medical director of Johns-Manville, explained the corporate politics in the following words:

“… it is felt that as long as the man feels well…. is happy at home and at work, and his physical condition remains good….nothing should be said. When he becomes disabled and sick, then the diagnosis should be made and the claim submitted by the Company….”

“The fibrosis of this disease is irreversible and permanent so that eventually compensation will be paid to each of these men”.

“But as long as the man is not disabled it is felt that he should not be told of his condition so that he can live and work in peace and the Company can benefit by his many years of experience.”Vandiver Brown, former General Counsel of Johns-Manville legal department summarized this even further, when asked the following question:

– Mr. Brown, do you mean to tell me you would let them work until they dropped dead ?
– Yes, we save a lot of money that way.

A 1974 memo from Exxon declares:

“Not only are we violating the existing regulations concerning clothing by not providing such clothing and laundering it, but we are also failing to protect our employees and the families of our employees from asbestos exposure.” 1974 Exxon memo

The goal of The Travelers’ “Catastrophe Products Committee” was to study the potential for asbestos to wipe out the company’s assets, and then, in the company’s own words, “make the catastrophe reducible to a level which would not imperil the assets of The Travelers.

The question was how to do it. The decision, on the part of insurers, was to adopt the same strategy as producers: deny prior knowledge and admit no liability. In 1977, the insurance industry’s “discussion group on asbestosis” unanimously decided not to admit liability in asbestosis cases.

“The meeting closed with a unanimous rejection of a suggestion that liability in asbestosis cases be admitted…”

— 1977 “discussion group on asbestosis”

Companies with significant asbestos sales used extreme measures to keep their customers in the dark about the risks of using asbestos products.

In a 1970 W.R. Grace memo regarding sales of its Mono-Kote fire-proofing spray product, which contained twelve percent asbestos, an employee urged:

“Stay unscrupulous, unethical, mean and selling Mono-Kote.”

A 1972 Union Carbide memorandum instructed managers to handle inquiries from concerned customers aggressively:

“If the customer is persistent and threatens to eliminate asbestos — a certain amount of aggressiveness may be effective. Words and catch phrases such as “premature”, “irrational” or “avoiding the inevitable” will sometimes turn the table. The main objective is to keep the customer on the defensive, make him justify his position.”

— 1972 Union Carbide memo

A 1981 Dow internal memo marked “CONFIDENTIAL” had the following note scrawled across the top by a worried executive:

“We are in trouble and would be more so if we had an investigation. We need a crash program.” — 1981 Dow confidential memo

In this INSIDER EXCLUSIVE “Justice in America” Network TV Special we “Go Behind The Headlines” in Asbestos – The Stunning Truth that Kills Millions to examine how Brent W. Coon, Founder, Brent Coon & Associates, and Lori Slocum, @ Brent Coon & Associates, have successfully litigated these cases for decades

They share the truth of how Members of the American Asbestos Industry got together and put forth a plan to minimize their financial exposure and keep the truth from the workers and the public.

For the next 100+ years, this charade of hiding the truth from the hard-working Americans their products were killing would continue. To this day, people across Americans are still suffering from, and dying from the effects of asbestos exposure and the Great Asbestos Industry cover up.

Brent and his firm have earned the highest respect from citizens and lawyers alike…. as some of the best trial lawyers in Texas and across the nation. He has seen many innocent & hard-working people become VICTIMS intentional corporate wrongdoing.

AND BECAUSE OF THAT……he and his law firm are driven to fight for people who had been harmed by the willful or negligent actions of others. Their goals….. Not ONLY To get Justice for their clients… BUT to make sure that Corporations Respect and Protect the health and the safety of all workers.

Please contact Brent Coon & Associates 409 242 5527 & 281 324 0399 for additional information.