Synkoloid’s History with Asbestos
Synkoloid Company was a New Jersey-based manufacturer of paints, varnishes, adhesives and asphalts. The company developed an extensive line of products between 1949 and 1976 that contained high levels of asbestos.
Artra Group acquired Synkoloid Company in 1975 and became responsible for Synkoloid’s asbestos lawsuits, beginning with those filed in 1962. By the end of 2000, Artra had been a defendant in 46,000 lawsuits involving Synkoloid products.
In 1981, Muralo Company Inc. purchased the majority of assets of the Synkoloid Company and agreed to take on any future claims against Synkoloid. However, it refused to take responsibility for any products manufactured before 1981.
The Synkoloid Company remained an active division of Muralo until 2014, when Muralo sold many of its holdings to California Products Corporation. Synkoloid Company no longer exists as a business entity, but California Products continues to sell Synkoloid-brand products that are free of asbestos.
Bankruptcy and Asbestos Trust Fund
Because Muralo did not use asbestos in any products, the asbestos lawsuits fell to Artra. Artra continued to take on the suits until it filed for bankruptcy protection in 2002.
After Artra went bankrupt, plaintiffs began suing Muralo for Synkoloid product injuries. Because of its small size, Muralo was unable to defend itself against the flow of lawsuits and filed for bankruptcy protection in 2003. By then, the company had been named as a defendant in over 60,000 asbestos-related lawsuits stemming from Synkoloid products.
Both Artra and Muralo reorganized in 2007. As part of a settlement between the two companies, Muralo’s insurers contributed $2.5 million to the Artra Asbestos Trust, which works to settle all asbestos lawsuits against the Synkoloid Company.
Each asbestos trust fund sets a payment percentage that it will pay for the value of a claim to keep enough funds in the trust to pay future claims. In 2018, the trust’s payment percentage was adjusted to 0.50%, which is among the lowest of all the asbestos trust funds.
In March 2021, the trustees announced an extension of temporary filing policy changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.For example, electronic signatures are temporarily accepted on documents submitted to the trust because the trustees understand the health concerns of patients with asbestos-related cancer.
Lawsuits involving Synkoloid’s asbestos products have been filed by plaintiffs diagnosed with asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer.
In 2002, John Henry Pace filed a lawsuit against Synkoloid for damages after being diagnosed with asbestosis. Pace was a self-employed contractor throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. During this time, he often used the company’s asbestos-containing product line, specifically Synkoloid Triple Duty Joint Compound.
Synkoloid began making the asbestos-containing joint compound in 1949, and in 1969, a supplier informed the company of the deadly health effects of asbestos. Despite the new information, Synkoloid continued manufacturing the product with asbestos until 1975.
Pace won his case and was awarded more than $2 million for medical expenses and mental and physical suffering.
Synkoloid’s Asbestos Products
Synkoloid manufactured the following asbestos-containing products:
- EZE-Tex Texture
- Cement Patch Tex-Add
- Kool-Kap Roof Coating
- Prime ’N Fill
- Stucco ’N Cement Patch
- Surface Conditioner
- Synkoloid Triple Duty Joint Compound
- Synko-Topping Triple Duty Joint Compound
- Vinyl Prep Mix
- Vinyl Tex-Wall Surface Condition Paste
Occupations at Risk of Exposure to Synkoloid’s Asbestos Products
The following occupations were at risk of exposure to asbestos through Synkoloid’s products:
- Construction workers
- Drywall workers
- Maintenance workers
Synkoloid actively marketed its products to painting contractors, carpenters, drywall finishers and plasterers. Because of this targeting, workers in the construction industry used the company’s products most frequently.
The company stopped using asbestos in its products in 1975, but older homes and buildings may still hold asbestos-containing Synkoloid products.