The Porter Hayden Company was formed in 1966 as the result of a merger between H.W. Porter & Co. Inc. of New Jersey and Reid Hayden Inc. of Maryland. The two companies were selling and installing insulation in industrial facilities along the mid-Atlantic region since the 1920s, and Porter Hayden continued this work until the 1970s.
Unfortunately, the insulation installed by Porter Hayden contained asbestos, which exposed thousands of workers and installers to the hazardous substance.
The company filed bankruptcy in 2005 after it received thousands of asbestos claims.
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In August 1976, the first asbestos-related claim against Porter Hayden was filed. Since then, an estimated 58,000 lawsuits were filed.
However, during the course of these lawsuits, Porter Hayden’s liability insurers, Commercial Union, denied coverage and several legal proceedings ensued between the companies. Unfortunately, as the two companies argued in court for years, a number of claims remained unpaid.
Other cases were barred because plaintiffs waited too long to file them. In the 1999 case of Kazimierz Lapka and Emilia Lapka v. Porter Hayden Company, et al., Porter Hayden’s lawyers argued that the plaintiff should have known his condition was caused by asbestos and filed his claim sooner.
From 1967 to 1984, Kazimierz Lapka was employed as a chemical operator and hot melt operator at the Essex Chemical Corporation in Sayreville, Pennsylvania. One of Lapka’s duties involved the mixing of pigments with powdered asbestos.
In 1981, chest X-rays revealed pleural thickening and other suspicious changes in his lungs. However, Lapka’s lawyers argued that he never received a definitive diagnosis until 1984, but the court still barred his claim.
In order to handle thousands of cases, several were consolidated in Baltimore Circuit Court during the 1980s and 1990s. In 1992, a jury awarded over $11.2 million to one consolidated case with three plaintiffs. Thereafter, thousands of plaintiffs participated in “mini-trials.” Finally, the sheer number of claims led to the company filing for bankruptcy.
Porter Hayden delivered and installed asbestos-containing installation at the Bethlehem Steel plant in Sparrows Point, Maryland, as well as at industrial and construction sites in several states, including:
Although Porter Hayden was a distributor rather than a manufacturer of asbestos-containing products, the company is still held liable for the harmful effects caused by asbestos exposure in the facilities where insulation was installed. Additionally, insulation installers who worked for Porter Hayden were continuously exposed to asbestos, especially if they were involved with the cutting, sawing or grinding of asbestos insulation materials.
Such processes had a tendency to release large clouds of asbestos-containing dust into the air, which could pose a serious health hazard if inhaled by workers nearby. If Porter Hayden employees inhaled this dust, microscopic asbestos fibers could have been embedded in delicate lung tissue, which increases the risk of developing asbestos-related diseases in the future.
Porter Hayden manufactured asbestos insulation in the 1960s and ‘70s.
After the company reorganized in 2007, it formed the Porter Hayden Asbestos Bodily Injury Trust. The company no longer manufactures products.Instead it exists solely to handle claims against the trust.
Matt Mauney is an award-winning journalist with nearly a decade of professional writing experience. He joined Asbestos.com in 2016, and he spends much of his time reading, analyzing and reporting on mesothelioma research articles to ensure people in the mesothelioma community know the latest medical advancements. Prior to joining Asbestos.com, Matt was a reporter at the Orlando Sentinel. Matt also edits some of the pages on the website.
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