Last modified: April 19, 2021
Amatex and Asbestos Manufacturing
In 1950, Amatex began manufacturing asbestos cloth, yarn, lap, thread and cord. By the early 1960s, the company expanded its product line and began manufacturing asbestos wick, rope and tubing.
In 1962, Amatex purchased an asbestos plant in Meredith, New Hampshire, from the Keasbey & Mattison Company. It continued manufacturing asbestos products there through 1982.
Asbestos fibers were used because they added strength and heat resistance to textiles. They were also affordable and easily incorporated into different types of textile products.
The company stopped using asbestos in the early 1980s, but knew long before then it was hazardous. As a result, Amatex was one of many asbestos-manufacturing companies of the 20th century to face asbestos litigation.
It was one of the first asbestos manufacturers to file for bankruptcy protection and establish a trust fund to handle future asbestos claims.
Amatex emerged from bankruptcy protection in 1990 and continues its operations today in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Mexico.
While the company still manufactures and distributes heat-resistant materials, its products have been asbestos-free since the early 1980s. Instead of asbestos, Amatex uses fiberglass and silica fibers in its textiles.
Development of the Amatex Asbestos Trust
By 1982, Amatex faced more than 9,000 claims from former employees and users of their products. Legal liabilities forced Amatex to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Nov. 1, 1982, and the court ordered it to create a Creditors’ Committee of Asbestos Litigants to handle formerly filed asbestos claims.
Amatex’s bankruptcy plan established a trust fund that has been known by various names, including the Amatex Asbestos Disease Trust Fund, Amatex Settlement Trust and Amatex Asbestos Trust.
The trust fund was established in 1990 with $16 million to handle future asbestos claims. During its first 10 years, the fund paid more than $11 million to asbestos claimants.
Garden City Group handled the trust until June 2018 when it was acquired by Epiq, a legal services provider.
Asbestos Litigation Involving Amatex
Amatex was facing 9,843 asbestos lawsuits before it filed for bankruptcy protection. Many of these claims were filed by former Amatex employees and workers who used Amatex products who had developed asbestosis, mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Ernest Cleveland worked in a naval shipyard in the 1970s, using asbestos products from multiple manufacturers, including Amatex. In 1980, Cleveland was diagnosed with asbestosis. He filed a lawsuit in July 1982 against Amatex and Celotex.
Amatex settled with Cleveland before the case went to court. At trial, Cleveland was awarded $1.5 million from Celotex, a company known for manufacturing asbestos insulation products.
Amatex’s Asbestos Products & Workers at Risk
Amatex manufactured textiles with asbestos fibers such as:
- Amatex Asbestos Woven Tape
- Asbestos Cloth
- Asbestos Cord
- Asbestos Lap
- Asbestos Rope
- Asbestos Roving
- Asbestos Tape
- Asbestos Thread
- Asbestos Tubing
- Asbestos Wick
- Asbestos Yarn
- Carded Asbestos Fiber
- Thermolan 26
Amatex’s heat-resistant products contained high concentrations of asbestos. Carded asbestos fiber contained 100% chrysotile asbestos. Safecote contained 80% chrysotile asbestos, and the others contained 95% to 97% chrysotile asbestos.
The company’s products were used by a variety of industries and occupations, including construction, shipbuilding, pipefitting and heating and air conditioning.
Some of the workers at risk of asbestos exposure to Amatex’s products included:
- Amatex workers
- Factory workers
- Industrial workers
- Shipyard workers
- Construction workers
- Power plant workers
- Chemical plant workers
- Petroleum workers
- Automotive plant workers
- Industrial stove workers
- Insulation installers
- Boiler workers
- Heating and air conditioning installers and repairers
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