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Honeywell Heating

  • Year Founded: 1906

Honeywell acquired asbestos liabilities when it purchased two subsidiaries, Bendix and NARCO. NARCO created a trust fund in 2013, but Honeywell remains liable for Bendix claims and certain types of claims related to NARCO products.

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Honeywell’s History with Asbestos

The Honeywell Heating Specialty Co. Inc. was founded in Minneapolis in 1906 by an engineer named Mark Honeywell. It specialized in hot water heat generators.

The company merged with the Minneapolis Heat Regulator Company in 1927 and was renamed the Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Company. Its specialty product was thermostatic heat controls.

Honeywell Heating Facts:
  • Founded: 1906
  • Years Operated: 1906 – Present
  • Headquarters: Morristown, New Jersey
  • Business: Heating systems, security, aerospace
  • Asbestos Trust: No
  • Bankruptcy Status: Not bankrupt

In 1979, Honeywell purchased North American Refractories Company, known as NARCO, which made asbestos refractory materials.

Honeywell Inc. merged with Allied Signal Inc. in 1999 to form a company with interests in aerospace, chemical products, automotive parts and building controls.

After the merger, the combined company was renamed Honeywell International. The purchase of subsidiaries manufacturing asbestos products meant Honeywell inherited some legal issues concerning asbestos exposure.

By 2010, Honeywell found itself a defendant in thousands of asbestos lawsuits resulting from the operations of its former subsidiaries. At the time, Honeywell estimated its potential liability from asbestos litigation at $1.1 billion.

Honeywell sold Bendix Friction Materials in 2014, but the company retained its asbestos liabilities and continues to face lawsuits related to asbestos exposure from Bendix’s brake linings that were made from 1939 to 2001.

On Oct. 1, 2019, Honeywell spun off a subsidiary known as Garrett Motion Inc. and shouldered the company with its estimated $1 billion in asbestos liability. In December 2019, Garrett Motion filed a lawsuit against Honeywell claiming its executives illegally forced Honeywell’s asbestos liabilities onto it.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission opened an investigation into Honeywell’s accounting for asbestos liabilities on Oct. 18, 2018. The company estimated liabilities at $2.61 billion as of the end of 2017, but a regulatory filing showed that it was $1.09 billion higher than the previous estimate.

Development of Trust Fund Connected to Honeywell’s Subsidiary

In 2003, Honeywell dealt with 47,000 asbestos lawsuits by selling its Bendix brake unit to a bankrupt company called Federal-Mogul, which filed for bankruptcy in 2002 to settle asbestos claims by establishing a trust fund.

The sale called for Honeywell to pay pending claims over a four-year period and included a cap on Honeywell’s annual payments to the trust to fund future claims. In the end, Honeywell remained the successor-in-interest to Bendix and continues to face asbestos lawsuits from plaintiffs claiming Bendix brakes caused them to develop asbestos-related diseases.

Honeywell’s other asbestos subsidiary, North American Refractories Company, filed for bankruptcy and established a trust fund in 2013 with $6.32 billion to handle asbestos claims stemming from its refractory products.

The bankruptcy plan assigned certain asbestos liabilities to Honeywell so that claims arising from bankrupt companies supplied by North American Refractories Company must file a claim with Honeywell.

North American Refractories Company sold its asbestos products to other companies. When those companies file for bankruptcy, an employee who has an asbestos claim against them has a right to take the claim up with Honeywell.

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Asbestos Litigation Involving Honeywell

Honeywell continues to face asbestos lawsuits related to contaminated products that its subsidiaries manufactured.

  • One of the largest verdicts against Honeywell came in January 2019, when a Little Rock, Arkansas, jury awarded more than $18.5 million to the estate of Ronald Burlie Thomas. He was a former brake shop worker who developed mesothelioma in March 2017 and died nine months later at age 72. Thomas worked with Bendix brake linings from 1971 until 1983. Honeywell negotiated a settlement with the plaintiff right before the verdict was issued that reportedly covered a range of verdicts.
  • In January 2017, a California appeals court upheld a $5.8 million verdict against Honeywell. The verdict was awarded to the surviving family of James Lester Phillips, who died of mesothelioma and claimed it was caused by exposure to Bendix asbestos brakes.
  • In 2014, a California jury awarded $10.9 million to the family of James Phillips, who developed mesothelioma after using Bendix asbestos brakes.
  • In 2002, a $53.5 million asbestos verdict was awarded to the wife of Stephen Brown, a former automobile brake mechanic who died of mesothelioma in 2000. Not only was Honeywell responsible for paying 2.35% of the judgment because its Bendix division was found responsible for Brown’s death, but it was also responsible for ensuring that the plaintiffs received payment from bankrupt defendants named in the suit because it was the only non-bankrupt defendant.

Honeywell’s Asbestos Products

Asbestos-containing products manufactured by Honeywell’s subsidiaries included:

  • Allied Signal Friction King disc brake pads
  • Bendix aircraft brake linings
  • Bendix brake linings
  • Bendix brake blocks
  • Bendix disc brake pads
  • Bulls-Eye brake linings
  • Eclipse brake linings
  • EDF brake linings
  • FK brake linings
  • Friction Kind brake linings
  • Marshal brake linings
  • Master brake linings
  • SI brake linings
  • WM brake linings

Many of these products contained asbestos were used by the U.S. armed forces, particularly the Navy.

Honeywell’s Occupations at Risk

The following occupations were at risk of exposure to asbestos products made by Honeywell’s subsidiaries:

  • Bendix and Allied Signal manufacturing plant workers
  • NARCO manufacturing plant workers
  • Aircraft mechanics
  • Auto mechanics
  • Auto assembly line workers
  • Auto body workers
  • Heavy machinery operators
  • Veterans of the U.S. armed forces

Individuals who worked in occupations that required them to be in close proximity to the dust created by brake friction, such as mechanics and brake installers, may have been exposed to asbestos-containing products manufactured by Bendix.

Those in the HVAC industry who repaired residential and commercial furnaces that contained the bricks and cement manufactured by NARCO for high temperature applications may also have risked asbestos exposure.

Learn about other companies that manufactured asbestos products

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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.

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  2. Curley, M. (2020, January 16). Spinoff Claims Honeywell Saddled It With $1B Liability.
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  3. Honeywell. (2019, December 5). Honeywell Responds to Garrett Motion’s Meritless Lawsuit.
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    Retrieved from: https://www.law360.com/articles/1123794
  5. Satter, L. (2019, January 31). $18.5M awarded over fatal asbestos exposure at central Arkansas brake shop.
    Retrieved from: https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2019/jan/31/18-5m-awarded-over-fatal-asbestos-expos/
  6. Reuters. (2018, October 19). SEC investigates Honeywell for asbestos-related accounting.
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  7. Guarnaccia, M. (2016, September 21). Honeywell Slams Trust's Referee Pick In Asbestos Claim Fight.
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  8. Zacks. (2014, July 15). Honeywell Divests Friction Materials, Reorganizes.
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Last Modified July 16, 2020

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