Years Operated: 1925 - Present
Headquarters: Tampa, Florida
Business: Insulation, roofing and building materials
Asbestos Trust: Yes
Bankruptcy Status: Filed October 12, 1990 and reorganized on December 9, 1996
Amount in Trust: $1.246 million
Year Created: 1998
In the 1920s, the Celotex Corporation of America and its subsidiary, the Celotex Company of Great Britain, established themselves as importers of bagasse fiberboard. Since its founding, Celotex has undergone multiple name changes. Celotex reincorporated in 1964 when Jim Walter purchased the Celotex Corporation of America.
The company's primary business is to make and distribute building products used both residentially and commercially. Another Celotex subsidiary was a company, Carey Canada Inc., which mined and processed asbestos fiber for Celotex products. The mine exposed workers to asbestos and contaminated products until it closed down in 1986.
After Celotex reorganized in 1997, BPB PLC of the United Kingdom bought Celotex's ceiling products and gypsum wallboard operations in 2000. As of 2012, Celotex continues operations in the United Kingdom, selling polyisocyanurate insulation, which meets energy needs using thin material.
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Despite the fact that Celotex and its mining subsidiary both defended themselves against lawsuits, asbestos-related liabilities mounted quickly. Celotex faced thousands of personal injury lawsuits and hundreds of property damage lawsuits. By 1998 Celotex had encountered 380,000 claims related to asbestos fibers, with health claims as high as $200 billion.
Marion George filed one such claim against Celotex, after her husband, Stuart, died from mesothelioma. For 48 years Stuart worked for an asbestos insulation contractor and distributor, handling almost all of the Carey products in the warehouse and breathing in asbestos dust. In 1989 the jury awarded $588,000 to Stuart’s estate.
Haskel and Mattie McNair also won a case against Celotex, based on exposure to asbestos dust from working with Celotex insulation products. The case included 12 other manufacturers and the judge held Celotex responsible for 30 percent of the total damage amount of $125,000.
Celotex filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 1990. The company’s reorganization plan was approved in 1996 and included the creation of the Asbestos Settlement Trust. From that point forward, Celotex was relieved of all current and future asbestos-related liability, having transferred it all to the trust.
The trust was formally founded in 1998 and took on asbestos claims for both Celotex and its mining company. The asbestos settlement trust owned 100 percent of Celotex until its wallboard and ceiling interests were bought by BPB. The rest of the company, however, remains with the trust.
Celotex sells insulation used for industrial equipment, using asbestos because of its ability to withstand fire and extreme temperature. Commercial and residential construction projects, asbestos mines and manufacturing facilities are all locations that may expose people to asbestos.
Those who install or handle Celotex products, such as construction workers, repairmen, boiler workers, pipefitters, home remodelers, roofers, contractors and shipyard workers may develop illnesses from contact with asbestos-contaminated insulation.
Celotex owned its own asbestos mine in Canada, where it employed workers who spent their days breathing in asbestos fibers. Confined spaces made mine exposure especially toxic. Residents of the town near the mine face dangerous levels of exposure as well.
Celotex employees were exposed to asbestos as they manufactured company products. Many health organizations maintain that any level of asbestos exposure is unsafe as some people develop mesothelioma cancer after only being exposed a few times.
In 2003 the Celotex Asbestos Settlement Trust paid New York City for property damages of schools and buildings based on over 400 claims. The trustees attempted to deny payments, but were ordered by the court to make payments which would exceed $40 million.
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