4 Min Read
Last Updated: 02/15/2024
Fact Checked

Written by Michelle Whitmer | Edited By Amy Edel

Quick Facts About Kelly-Moore Paints
  • wavy circle icon with check mark inside
  • calendar icon
    Years Operated:
    1946 — 2024
  • gray building icon
    San Carlos, California
  • businessman icon standing next to a globe
    Paint and paint products
  • icon of a building with a dollar sign on it
    Asbestos Trust:
  • downward arrow with blocks representing cash
    Bankruptcy Status:
    None declared

Kelly-Moore’s History with Asbestos

Kelly-Moore Paints was one of the largest paint companies in the U.S. and sold asbestos-containing products for painting, cementing, texturizing and filling drywall from 1960 to 1978. Kelly-Moore’s spackling and taping compounds also contained asbestos.

For nearly two decades, the company used asbestos as a thickener, filler and fire retardant in its Paco texture products and other interior finishing products. Paco products contained 5% to 10% asbestos. 

William Moore and William Kelly originally founded the company in 1946. In 1952, Moore bought out Kelly as a business partner but kept the established name. When Moore retired in 1984, Kelly-Moore had 80 stores and had grossed more than $136 million. 

In 2022 Flacks Group acquired Kelly-Moore. At the time, Flacks predicted combined revenue from Kelly-Moore and its portfolio company Pleuger Industries would exceed $1 billion over the next few years.

In 2024, Flacks decided to close all 157 Kelly-Moore retail locations across the country. The move followed decades of fighting tens of thousands of workers’ asbestos lawsuits claiming asbestos-related diseases were the result of Kelly-Moore’s manufacturing.

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Asbestos Litigation Involving Kelly-Moore

More than 48,000 lawsuits have been filed against Kelly-Moore seeking compensation for asbestos-related injuries including mesothelioma. The company commissioned a study that estimated future asbestos liabilities may exceed $170 million. 

Unlike most other asbestos product manufacturers, the company hasn’t filed for bankruptcy and continues to face asbestos litigation. Kelly-Moore says neither chapter 11 bankruptcy nor in-court liquidation is an option.

Kelly-Moore Litigation Highlights

  • 2024: After spending $600 million on asbestos settlements, company leaders decided to close all retail locations.
  • 2018: Billie, Kathleen and James Belmer, as wrongful death heirs to Donald Belmer, filed suit against Kelly-Moore in San Francisco County. Donald Belmer died of asbestos-related lung cancer.
  • 2004: 60-year-old Robert Tregget won a verdict in his trial in Los Angeles. He received 14% of a $36.6 million verdict from Kelly-Moore. Tregget used Kelly-Moore’s Paco Quik-Set joint compound to remodel his home in the 1970s.
  • 2001: Alfredo Hernandez, a 47-year-old construction worker diagnosed with mesothelioma, was awarded $55.5 million following exposure to asbestos through a Kelly-Moore joint compound product.

Kelly-Moore filed a $4.1 billion lawsuit against Union Carbide in 2002, claiming the defendant failed to inform the plaintiff about hazards in asbestos-containing products before selling Kelly-Moore its asbestos-containing products from 1963 to 1978. Union Carbide claimed Kelly-Moore was aware of the hazards. In 2004, the case was tried in Texas and Union Carbide was found not guilty.

In 2005, Kelly-Moore set forth a motion to retry the Union Carbide case, claiming that Union Carbide hid evidence that connected its product to cancer and asbestosis. Judge J. Ray Gayle III of the Texas 23rd District Court for Brazoria County did not grant the motion.

Kelly-Moore’s Asbestos Products

Until 1978, much of Kelly-Moore’s range of products contained asbestos. Some products the company manufactured contained about 10% asbestos.

Kelly-Moore’s Asbestos-Containing Products

  • Bedding cement
  • Deco-Tex ceiling texture
  • Paco All-Purpose point compound
  • Paco finishing compound
  • Paco joint cement
  • Paco joint compound
  • Paco Quik-Set joint compound
  • Paco Ready Mix joint compound
  • Paco spray texture
  • Paco taping compound
  • Paco texture
  • Paco texture paint
  • Paco topping compound
  • Paco wall texture

As the International Agency for Research on Cancer points out, “…asbestos was used as a filler to improve the technical properties of paints….” and some asbestos-containing textured products were widely used in home decoration until the early 1990s. Textured paints often contained chrysotile asbestos.

Occupations at Risk of Exposure to Kelly-Moore’s Asbestos Products

Workers encountered asbestos fibers through Kelly-Moore’s products in several ways. Employees who worked in the company’s manufacturing facilities encountered asbestos on the job.

Workers were also exposed when mixing asbestos cement or using joint compound and texturing products. They were also exposed while adding drywall and applying paint and finish to shipyards and commercial and residential building projects.

Occupations at Risk From Kelly-Moore Products

  • Carpenters
  • Construction workers
  • Drywallers
  • Kelly-Moore employees
  • Painters
  • Plasterers
  • Shipyard workers

According to a European Commission 2022 report, more than 70,000 workers died in 2019 from past exposure to asbestos. Unaware of the dangers of asbestos, painters often work without any respiratory protection close to asbestos-containing materials and surfaces. 

These materials release asbestos particles into the air, which individuals nearby might inhale. Asbestos exposure can lead to a number of diseases, such as mesothelioma, which may develop 20 to 60 years after exposure.

In 2018, an International Journal of Epidemiology study looked at asbestos-related cancer risks for British workers in different industries. Painters were included in one of the highest risk categories, with a risk of mesothelioma almost 16 times higher than in the general population.

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