Republic Powdered Metals’ History with Asbestos
Republic Powdered Metals sold asbestos roofing products and sealants under various brands until the early 1980s. It began selling asbestos-containing Bondex products when it acquired Reardon Company in 1966, and it sold them for approximately 11 years.
Reardon’s asbestos-containing Bondex products included joint compound, coatings and adhesives. Asbestos materials were used in these products to make them stronger and resistant to heat. These properties were important to preventing accidents and fires in industrial settings.
The company sold these products for industrial, commercial and domestic use. Workers who manufactured these products or handled them throughout their career developed asbestos-related diseases and sued Republic Powdered Metals for compensation.
Between 1980 and 2010, the company was named in tens of thousands of asbestos lawsuits.
Development of Trust Fund
On May 31, 2010, Bondex and its holding company, Specialty Products Holding Corp., filed for bankruptcy under the strain of more than 20,000 asbestos lawsuits.
In 2014, Republic Powdered Metals filed for bankruptcy and joined the proceedings involving its subsidiaries. It agreed to contribute an additional $797.5 million to fund an asbestos trust.
On July 1, 2016, the Bondex Trust began handling asbestos claims. The current payment percentage is 22%, which is relatively high compared to other asbestos trust funds.
In June 2019, the trust announced that claimants diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases prior to the initial bankruptcy filing in May 2010 had until January 1, 2020, to file a claim. Recently diagnosed claimants have three years from the time of diagnosis to file a claim with the trust.
Asbestos Litigation Involving Republic Powdered Metals
The company defended its first asbestos lawsuit involving Bondex products in 1980. From then until 1999, it paid a total of $1.6 million in asbestos-related lawsuits. However, this amount drastically spiked beginning in 2000 when it paid out $8.2 million in asbestos liabilities.
Between 2001 and 2010, the company paid between $43 million and $82.5 million each year in asbestos liabilities.
The latency period associated with asbestos-related diseases may explain this spike. Since asbestos illnesses can take 20 to 60 years to develop, anyone who inhaled asbestos before the company discontinued their asbestos product line may just now be developing health complications.
A majority of the lawsuits filed against Republic Powdered Metals stem from Reardon Company’s asbestos-containing Bondex products.
In their 2010 bankruptcy filing, the company reported more than 20,000 asbestos lawsuits that specifically name Reardon Company’s products as the source of asbestos exposure. The vast majority of these Reardon lawsuits came from six states: Texas, Florida, Mississippi, Maryland, Illinois and Ohio.
One such lawsuit, filed by a Texas-based painter, resulted in a verdict of approximately $11 million. Of the four product manufacturers named in the suit, Bondex was the only company not to agree on a settlement. Instead, Bondex went to trial, where the judge assigned them partial responsibility for the worker’s diagnosis of mesothelioma.
Republic Powdered Metals’ Asbestos Products and Workers at Risk
Some of the asbestos-containing products manufactured or sold by Republic Powdered Metals include:
- Bondex Ready-Mixed Joint Cement
- Bondex All-Purpose Joint Compound
- Bondex All-Purpose Joint Cement
- Bontone Fibred Masonry Coating
- Dramex Texture Paint
- Dramex Ready-Mixed Finish
- Liquid Aluminum Coating
- Triko branded products
- Mr. Mud branded products
Employees who manufactured these asbestos-containing products were at the highest risk of exposure. Workers who handled these products on the job also faced a serious risk of asbestos exposure.
The occupations at risk of exposure to asbestos products made by Republic Powdered Metals include:
- Industrial workers
- Factory workers
- Boiler workers
- Mill workers
- Railway workers
- Shipyard workers
- Construction workers
- Chemical plant workers
- Power plant workers
- Oil refinery workers
- Metal plant workers
- Textile plant workers
- Rubber plant workers
- Veterans of the armed forces
Homeowners who used asbestos products made by Republic Powdered Metals also faced exposure risks.
The risk of exposure is relatively low for asbestos-containing textured coatings (such as Dramex Texture Paint), but other products presented higher risks. Bondex All-Purpose Joint Compound, which contained chrysotile asbestos, was widely used by do-it-yourself homeowners.
Republic Powdered Metals History
Frank Sullivan founded Republic Powdered Metals in 1947 to manufacture an exclusive protective coating known as Alumanation. The company expanded over the next several years, producing other industrial maintenance products such as waterproofing and rustproofing materials.
Republic Powdered Metals purchased Reardon Company in 1966, adopting its successful Bondex brand. While the purchase significantly expanded the company’s product line, Reardon made asbestos-containing products. Ultimately, Republic Powdered Metals inherited liability for future asbestos lawsuits filed against Reardon.
In 1971, the company formed RPM International Inc. to acquire more paint and coatings companies. RPM has acquired approximately 175 companies, including Rustoleum and BF Goodrich, since its inception.
By 2010, it operated 90 manufacturing facilities in more than 20 countries. Today, RPM continues its acquisitions of companies that specialize in specialty coatings and sealants. In 2021, the company reported $6.1 billion in net sales.