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Flexitallic Gasket Company

  • Amount in Trust: $635 million
  • Year Trust Was Created: 2007

From 1912 to 1992, Flexitallic Gasket Company manufactured asbestos-containing spiral-wound gaskets. Lawsuits stemming from exposure to these products caused its parent company, Turner & Newall, to file for bankruptcy. A trust fund was established with $635 million to handle future asbestos claims.

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Flexitallic’s History with Asbestos

The predecessor to Flexitallic’s U.S. business made sheet materials and was founded in England during the mid-19th century. Flexitallic relocated to Camden, New Jersey, in 1912 to form its U.S. division, and developed the first spiral-wound industrial gasket the same year.

Flexitallic was the sole manufacturer of this product until the 1940s. Over the years, the company developed a number of other proprietary gasket and valve seal products for use in various industries. Unfortunately, Flexitallic’s spiral-wound gaskets were made with asbestos tape.

Flexitallic Gasket Company Facts:
  • Founded: 1963
  • Years Operated: 1963 - present
  • Headquarters: Houston, Texas
  • Business: Manufacturer of static sealing products
  • Asbestos Trust: Yes
  • Bankruptcy Status: Filed October 1, 2001 and reorganized on November 13, 2007

The company gained notoriety during World War II because its specialized gaskets were used on U.S. Navy battleships to prevent steam loss, which allowed the ships to maintain full power in heavy seas.

British asbestos conglomerate T&N PLC (originally known as Turner & Newall Ltd.) bought out the business in 1970. In 1986, T&N moved the company to Delaware.

In 1992, Flexitallic reportedly stopped filling its spiral-wound gaskets with asbestos. Today, its spiral-wound gaskets use a variety of different fillers, including vermiculite and graphite.

T&N sold its assets to Dan-Loc Bolt and Gasket in 1997 and agreed to protect Dan-Loc from asbestos claims by retaining its asbestos liabilities.

About a year later, T&N began crumbling under the weight of asbestos lawsuits and was purchased by Federal-Mogul. As part of the purchase, Federal-Mogul agreed to honor the original indemnity agreement with Dan-Loc.

Dan-Loc gave the company its current name, The Flexitallic Group, and moved its headquarters to Deer Park, Texas, right outside of Houston, where the business continues to operate today.

Development of the T&N Subfund Trust

The T&N and Flexitallic asbestos claims that Federal-Mogul acquired proved too much for the company to bear and forced it to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Oct. 1, 2001.

Federal-Mogul emerged from bankruptcy on Nov. 13, 2007. It created a trust fund with four subfunds to organize claims resulting from different asbestos companies it previously acquired.

The T&N Subfund of the Federal-Mogul Asbestos Injury Trust is the subfund that handles all Flexitallic asbestos claims. It was initially funded with $635 million and began accepting claims on Aug. 25, 2010.

The T&N Subfund’s current payment percentage is 8.5%. The scheduled value of a mesothelioma claim in this trust is $200,000.

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Asbestos Litigation Involving Flexitallic

Flexitallic claims accounted for nearly 158,000 of the approximately 350,000 asbestos lawsuits filed against Federal-Mogul. These lawsuits were filed by former Flexitallic employees and end users of Flexitallic gaskets.

  • Twenty-two Texas refinery workers suffering from asbestosis filed a case against Flexitallic and other manufacturers in 2001, winning a total of $35.2 million in compensation.
  • A California jury awarded $4.2 million to a U.S. Navy veteran in 2001. He claimed he developed mesothelioma after exposure to Flexitallic’s asbestos gaskets while working as a boiler tender on a U.S. Navy destroyer.
  • In 2000, a Louisiana jury awarded $1.2 million to the widow of U.S. Navy veteran Earlon Nunez, who died of mesothelioma at the age of 49 after exposure to asbestos products, including Flexitallic’s asbestos gaskets. Nunez worked in the boiler room of the USS James E. Keyes destroyer and his job involved changing out asbestos gaskets on the boiler. Flexitallic was held 10% liable for the verdict.

Flexitallic’s Asbestos Products

Flexitallic made and sold asbestos-containing spiral-wound gaskets under names such as:

  • Style D (a self-centering gasket)
  • Style R (gaskets for large male and female joints)
  • Style T (gaskets for marine boilers)

Asbestos lawsuits against Flexitallic arise from exposure to its spiral-wound industrial gasket, which contained layers of asbestos tape between the gasket’s metal rings.

The gasket was made by spiraling alternating strips of asbestos tape and metal into an interior ring, which was then fitted inside an exterior metal ring. The asbestos tape contained 90% asbestos.

According to Flexitallic advertisements printed in the 1950s and 1960s, the company used white chrysotile asbestos from Canada and blue crocidolite asbestos from Africa.

Asbestos fibers were used as a filler material because of their strength and superior resistance to corrosion. Manufacturers also valued asbestos for its extremely high melting point.

A stack of Flexitallic gaskets
A stack of Flexitallic gaskets with a manufacturer’s label indicating the filler as “ABS,” which stood for asbestos.

Flexitallic’s Occupations at Risk

The following occupations faced risk of exposure to Flexitallic’s asbestos gaskets:

  • Flexitallic manufacturing plant workers
  • Pipefitters
  • Shipyard workers
  • Refinery workers
  • Boiler workers
  • Veterans of the U.S. armed forces

Workers who manufactured products for Flexitallic encountered harmful levels of asbestos exposure. End users of Flexitallic gaskets were exposed during installation and removal.

Asbestos exposure during manufacturing, installation or removal of Flexitallic’s gaskets caused thousands of workers to develop asbestos-related diseases.

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Writer

Joining the team in February 2008 as a writer and editor, Michelle Whitmer has translated medical jargon into patient-friendly information at Asbestos.com for more than eight years. Michelle is a registered yoga teacher, a member of the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine, and was quoted by The New York Times on the risks of asbestos exposure.

Walter Pacheco, Managing Editor at Asbestos.com
Edited by

11 Cited Article Sources

The sources on all content featured in The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com include medical and scientific studies, peer-reviewed studies and other research documents from reputable organizations.

  1. The Flexitallic Group. (2019). The Flexitallic Group: Corporate.
    Retrieved from: https://flexitallic.com/us/corporate/
  2. Federal-Mogul Asbestos Trust. (2018, September 24). T&N Subfund of the Federal-Mogul Asbestos Personal Injury Trust.
    Retrieved from: http://www.federalmogulasbestostrust.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/POC-Instructions-_D0181549_-FINAL-updated.pdf
  3. United States Bankruptcy Court. (2008, March 19). Federal-Mogul Global INC., T&N Limited.
    Retrieved from: http://www.deb.uscourts.gov/
  4. Hoover's Inc. (2012). The Flexitallic Gasket Company: Overview.
    Retrieved from: http://www.hoovers.com/
  5. Rand. (2010). Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts: An Overview of Trust Structure and Activity with Detailed Reports on the Largest Trusts.
    Retrieved from: http://www.rand.org/pubs/technical_reports/2010/RAND_TR872.pdf
  6. Hellerman, E., and Voorhees, T. (2003, February 28). Peripheral Defendants as Litigation Targets.
    Retrieved from: http://www.cov.com/files/Publication/9de0ea41-479d-4100-be34-a0a472c3aa1e/Presentation/PublicationAttachment/9d028b7b-9fef-45ef-afb4-a1e3bc39fbef/oid6374.PDF
  7. EHS Today Staff. (2001, February 19). Jury Finds Companies Negligent in Asbestos Case.
    Retrieved from: https://www.ehstoday.com/archive/article/21904068/jury-finds-companies-negligent-in-asbestos-case
  8. MoreLaw. (2001, September 25). Lane v. Flexitallic.
    Retrieved from: https://www.morelaw.com/verdicts/case.asp?n=BC%20224%20881&s=CA&d=14094
  9. Andrews Asbestos Litigation Reporter. (2000). LA. Jury Returns $1.2M Verdict Against Flexitallic.
    Retrieved from: https://content.next.westlaw.com/Document/I9f237e71547211dbbd2dfa5ce1d08a25/View/FullText.html?transitionType=Default&contextData=%28sc.Default%29
  10. LinkedIn. (n.d.). The Flexitallic Group.
    Retrieved from: https://www.linkedin.com/company/flexitallic
  11. Retropaper. (n.d.). Flexitallic Gasket Company: Asbestos Product Information. Retrieved from: http://www.retropaper.net/FLEXITALLICGASKETCOMPANY.html
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Last Modified June 26, 2020

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