Written By: Michelle Whitmer,
Last modified: April 19, 2021
Quick Facts
  • Founded:
    1946
  • Years Operated:
    1946 — Present
  • Headquarters:
    San Carlos, California
  • Business:
    Paint and paint products
  • Asbestos Trust:
    No
  • Bankruptcy Status:
    Not bankrupt

Kelly-Moore’s History with Asbestos

Kelly-Moore Paints is one of the largest paint companies in the U.S. In 2019, it produced 20 million gallons of paint and reported $860 million in revenue. The company was founded by William Moore and William Kelly in 1946. Kelly-Moore sold asbestos-containing products for painting, cementing, texturizing and filling drywall from 1960 to 1978.

In 1952, Moore bought out Kelly as a business partner but kept the established name. By the time Moore retired in 1984, Kelly-Moore had 80 stores and had grossed more than $136 million.

For nearly two decades, Kelly-Moore used asbestos as a thickener, filler and fire retardant in its Paco texture products and other interior finishing products. These products contained 5% to 10% asbestos. Spackling and taping compounds manufactured by Kelly-Moore also contained asbestos.

The company has fought tens of thousands of asbestos lawsuits filed by workers who developed asbestos-related diseases. Unlike most other asbestos product manufacturers, Kelly-Moore has not filed for bankruptcy and continues to face asbestos litigation.

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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. Many of them are initiated by painters and other laborers who now suffer from mesothelioma. Workers affected by Kelly-Moore’s asbestos products have received millions of dollars in verdicts and settlement funds.

  • One 47-year-old construction worker diagnosed with mesothelioma, Alfredo Hernandez, was awarded $55.5 million in 2001 following exposure to asbestos through a Kelly-Moore joint compound product.
  • In 2004, 60-year-old Robert Tregget won a trial in Los Angeles, receiving 14% of $36.6 million from Kelly-Moore. Tregget used Kelly-Moore’s Paco Quik-Set joint compound to remodel his home in the 1970s.
  • In 2018, the surviving family of Donald Belmer, who died of asbestos-related lung cancer that same year, filed a lawsuit against Kelly-Moore claiming exposure to the company’s products caused him to develop asbestosis and lung cancer. A trial date is set for February 2021.

Kelly-Moore filed a $4.1 billion lawsuit against Union Carbide in 2002, claiming that Union Carbide did not inform the company about asbestos hazards before selling Kelly-Moore its asbestos-containing products from 1963 to 1978. Union Carbide claimed that Kelly-Moore was aware of the hazards associated with its product. 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

Kelly-Moore manufactured or sold the following 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

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

The following occupations faced risk of exposure to asbestos products made by Kelly-Moore:

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

Unaware of the dangers of asbestos, painters would often work without any respiratory protection while in close proximity 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 50 years after exposure.

Workers encountered asbestos fibers through Kelly-Moore’s products in a number of ways. They were exposed when mixing asbestos cement, adding drywall, using joint compound and texturing products, and applying paint and finish to shipyards and commercial and residential building projects. Kelly-Moore employees who worked in the company’s manufacturing facilities also encountered asbestos on the job.

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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