ACandS’ History with Asbestos
ACandS, formerly known as Armstrong Contracting and Supply Corporation, was founded in 1958 to sell and install asbestos-containing insulation manufactured by other companies.
As a subsidiary of Armstrong Cork Company, it sold and installed some asbestos insulation products manufactured by Armstrong, but ACandS never manufactured asbestos products.
In 1974, ACandS said it no longer would use materials containing friable asbestos. While ACandS created a policy to stop using certain kinds of asbestos, it did not stop using it entirely. According to an ACandS bankruptcy statement, the company continued to use asbestos until 1985.
From 1981 to 2002, ACandS resolved more than 247,000 individual asbestos-related lawsuits. Most claimed the company exposed workers to the deadly mineral, triggering a number of mesothelioma diagnoses.
The company was hit with nearly 55,000 claims in 2001 alone. The financial strain from these claims forced ACandS to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2002 and establish a trust fund to handle future claims.
Development of the ACandS Asbestos Settlement Trust
A judge rejected ACandS’ initial reorganization plan because it did not adequately take into consideration ongoing or long-term costs of asbestos claims.
In May 2008, ACandS’ second reorganization plan was approved. It established a trust fund, known as the ACandS Asbestos Settlement Trust, and required the company to place $528 million in the trust. The trust began accepting claims in May 2009.
The trust’s scheduled value of a mesothelioma claim is $150,000. The current payment percentage is 5.8%.
Asbestos Litigation Involving ACandS
Prior to filing for bankruptcy, ACandS faced tens of thousands of asbestos lawsuits from people who claimed they developed asbestos-related diseases after installing or working around ACandS insulation projects.
- Jess Lemmons worked as a boilermaker at Todd Shipyards in Houston, Texas, where he often used block insulation, pipe covering and other materials that contained asbestos. When he died from an asbestos-related condition, Lemmons’ wife sued ACandS and won a $3 million verdict.
- In 2001, ACandS lost a trial involving five people. Together with Harbison-Walker Refractories and A.P. Green Industries, ACandS paid a portion of the $40 million verdict. The five claimants worked with pipe covering, cement block, insulating cements, pipefitting and asbestos bricks.
- Henry Plummer, a U.S. Navy machinist who worked with contaminated insulation, gaskets and pipe coverings in warships, also won compensation from ACandS in 2001 after developing mesothelioma. He received $3.1 million.
ACandS’ Asbestos Products
ACandS installed insulation products containing asbestos, including:
- Air Cell Insulation
- Armabestos Block Insulation and Pipe Covering
- Armatemp Block Insulation
- Armatemp Cement No. 10
- Armatemp Cement No. 166
- Armatemp Insulating Cement
- Armstrong 85% Magnesia Cement
- Armstrong 85% Magnesia Pipe and Block Insulation
- Armstrong Kaytherm Pipe Covering
- Armstrong LT Cork Covering
- Armstrong’s Plastic Emulsion
- Armstrong’s S.P. Emulsion with Asbestos
- Asbestos Fiber EX-25
- Duplex Wool Felt Pipe Insulation
- Hy-Temp Combination Insulation
- Hy-Temp Pipe and Block Insulation
- Kaylo Pipe Covering
- Limpet LW25 Raw Asbestos Fiber
- LK Block Insulation
- LK Pipe Covering
- Mani-Ply Pipe Insulation
- Vinyl Asbestos Tile (Corlon and Excelon brands)
- Hydrocord (asbestos fiber felt)
ACandS sold four types of asbestos-containing gaskets used by pipefitters. The gasket brand names are Accobest AN-B012, Accobest AS-474, Accobest AS-8073 and Accopac. The latter three were also distributed by Armstrong World Industries.
ACandS Occupations at Risk
ACandS employees who worked with or installed these asbestos-containing materials faced high levels of asbestos exposure. Additionally, people who worked around these products on the job were at risk of asbestos exposure when the materials were installed, repaired and removed.
ACandS installed insulation in many different types of commercial and industrial buildings, such as chemical plants, power plants, oil refineries, paper mills and aircraft hangars. They also installed asbestos insulation in hospitals, schools and military bases.
The occupations most at risk of exposure to asbestos products used by ACandS include:
- Shipyard workers
- Boiler workers
- Construction workers
- Sheet metal workers
- Flooring installers
- Factory workers
- Industrial workers
A June 2018 study published in the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health shows cancer incidence is higher among shipyard and shipbuilding workers compared to the general population.
“This cohort experienced an excess in the incidence of both mesothelioma and lung cancer, showing increasing incidence rates at higher level of asbestos exposure,” the authors wrote.
A 2022 report by the European Commission noted that in 2019 alone, over 70,000 workers died from past exposure to asbestos.
History of ACandS
ACandS Inc. started as the Armstrong Cork Company. Launched in the 1860s, Armstrong originally manufactured cork stoppers for glass containers. Over time, Armstrong became a national corporation by acquiring local independent insulation companies.
During the 1940s and 1950s, Armstrong profits declined. In 1952, Armstrong was listed in a workers’ compensation claim for asbestos-related disease.
These factors led to a decision in 1958 to create a subsidiary known as Armstrong Contracting and Supply Corporation, which contracted the installation of insulation in commercial and industrial buildings.
During the 1960s, the number of workers’ compensation claims against Armstrong for asbestos-related diseases significantly increased. By the late 1960s, Armstrong decided to sell Armstrong Contracting and Supply.
Employees were given the option of buying out the business and renaming it ACandS Inc. The employees agreed.
Through a series of business and stock transactions, Irex Corporation was formed by 31 existing and former Armstrong Contracting and Supply employees to acquire ACandS in 1969.
As a subsidiary of Irex, ACandS continued with its insulation installation business, building a reputation as a reliable contractor through 2002, when it filed for bankruptcy.
Now known as Irex Contracting Group, the company installs asbestos-free insulation and offers a variety of other services, including asbestos abatement.