Years Operated: 1923 - circa 2004
Headquarters: Renton, Washington
Business: Manufacturer of refractory and industrial products
Asbestos Trust: Yes
Bankruptcy Status: Filed in 2000 and reorganized in 2001.
Amount in Trust: $20 million
Year Created: 2001
Aiming to provide “the most complete line of insulation/refractory products and services available on the market,” Edwin J. Bartells established The E.J. Bartells Company in 1923. In the early years until the late 1970s, the company manufactured products using asbestos, a toxic mineral the refractory industry once embraced for its remarkable fire- and heat-resistant properties.
Throughout its history, the company conducted business with notable names including Boeing, Xerox, Intel, Apollo Sheet Metal, J.H. Kelly and others. Many of these companies were also known to manufacture asbestos-containing products.
The E.J. Bartells Company stopped doing business in the early 2000s and officially became an inactive corporation in 2004. A private company revamped the company as E.J. Bartells in 2001.
E.J. Bartells now sells refractory insulation, as well as industrial and commercial products, air handling and HVAC units, mechanical insulation and other refractory products. However, these products are produced in accordance with today’s asbestos regulations.
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As a result of including asbestos in its products, the original E.J. Bartells Corporation faced many asbestos-related lawsuits. These lawsuits came from former employees of the company, as well as end users of the company’s products.
In one high profile case, the wife of a former machinist and electrician filed a wrongful death lawsuit against dozens of companies that exposed her husband to asbestos. One of these companies was The E.J. Bartells Company. A jury found the company partially liable for the man’s death (from pleural mesothelioma) and awarded the family a total of $3 million in punitive damages, $1.5 million in non-economic damages and $307,000 in compensatory damages.
In another case, a former employee passed away from asbestosis. His family sought compensation for funeral expenses, death benefits and disability benefits; in a settlement agreement with some third-party defendants, they were awarded monthly payments of $750 over the course of 20 years.
Overwhelmed by thousands of asbestos-related claims, The E.J. Bartells Company eventually filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2000. As part of their reorganization efforts, the original company established an asbestos trust fund to address ongoing and future asbestos claims. The reorganized E.J. Bartells has not been involved with any asbestos lawsuits.
Employees from many occupations and industries used asbestos products from The E.J. Bartells Company. Insulators, plumbers, pipe workers, electricians and construction workers all utilized products the company manufactured. These workers then faced elevated risks for respiratory diseases such as asbestosis and cancers like lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Because of the risk of occupational illness, former employees of The E.J. Bartells Corporation should consider regular screenings for potential asbestos-related diseases. Employees of the currently operating E.J. Bartells (or workers from other industries who use their products) do not face the same exposure risks.
The E.J. Bartells Company manufactured an array of products that contained some percentage of asbestos. A few examples include: adhesives, tapes, sealants, board insulation, cement, duct connectors, insulation, insulated pipe supports, insulation pads and expansion joints, pipe coverings, insulation pads, and tapes.
The modern-day E.J. Bartells:
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