Years Operated: 1917-1987
Headquarters: San Francisco, CA
Business: Manufactured roofing materials
Asbestos Trust: Yes
Bankruptcy Status: Filed May 1, 2004, and reorganized on Oct. 10, 2007
Amount in Trust: $214 million
Year Created: 2003
The Flintkote Company was established in 1901 and is best known for manufacturing roofing materials. Although the company later added other product lines, such as consumer goods, roofing remains its core industry.
Flintkote's flagship product was asbestos roofing shingles. Asbestos was used in many products that required durability, low cost and heat-resistance. Although durable, products with asbestos are potentially dangerous if they are damaged or disturbed.
Flintkote expanded into Europe in the 1920s and products containing asbestos were introduced around 1930. In 1956, Flintkote began acquiring companies that produced gypsum, pipes, paper products and new types of asbestos cement. By 1963, the company maintained 126 manufacturing plants in the United States and 21 international plants. By 1971, the company grew to 11,300 people.
Health organizations began alerting governments and residents about the harmful properties of asbestos as early as 1940. Many companies ignored the warnings and continued using asbestos in products — exposing workers in the process. Companies did not phase out asbestos until the 1970s, when the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared it a hazardous, cancerous material and instituted regulations.
On May 15, 1982, Flintkote stopped manufacturing products that contained asbestos. By May 15, 1984, Flintkote no longer distributed products that contained asbestos.
Manufacturers are required to provide a materials safety data sheet (MSDS) that lists any carcinogenic potential in the workplace. Despite current regulations, Flintkote asbestos material could still be present in some older buildings that have not undergone renovations.
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Flintkote began dealing with asbestos-related personal injury lawsuits in the early 1970s. Flintkote’s insurance generally disbursed resulting settlements and awards until 2001, when certain insurers began withholding or delaying payments. This withholding, combined with an increasing number of asbestos and mesothelioma claims, forced the company deep into debt.
Flintkote sold its construction, stone and cement manufacturing plants in 1987 to secure more money to pay asbestos-related claims. Because of the number of asbestos-related lawsuits against Flintkote and partner company Flintkote Mines, the companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2004.
In its bankruptcy filing, Flintkote listed $160 million in assets and $70 million in asbestos legal liabilities. The company had already paid $630 million for more than 350,000 lawsuits and 155,000 cases were pending.
Flintkote and Flintkote Mines eventually established a trust to handle ongoing and future asbestos-related claims. Using pre-established guidelines, trust representatives determine the severity of each claim and the award total.
Asbestos-related claims came from employees and workers in various occupations who were exposed to asbestos-containing Flintkote products during their employment. Flintkote manufactured asbestos containing products such as asphalt, vinyl floor tile; liquid products, such as waterproofing, coatings, adhesives and sealers; and cement products, such as asbestos cement pipe, shingles, roofing and siding. Vinyl and asphalt resilient floor covering products contained 5 to 20 percent asbestos fibers.
Flintkote facility workers, roofers, car mechanics, floor tilers, construction workers, insulators, plumbers, road pavers, railroad builders and pipefitters may have used asbestos-containing products produced by Flintkote from 1935 to the early 1980s. These workers were exposed to asbestos while installing flooring, piping and chimney lining; building residential and commercial sites; adding cement board, shingles and siding; and adding protective coatings to roofs and railroad cars.
Flintkote products mainly consist of roofing materials, liquid sealing supplies, joint compound and cement. These products were distributed and sold in the United States and Canada.
In March 2012, final arguments for the confirmation of the Amended Joint Plan of Reorganization for The Flintkote Company and Flintkote Mines Limited were held in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.
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