Written By: Michelle Whitmer,
Last modified: April 19, 2021
Quick Facts
  • Founded:
    1913
  • Years Operated:
    1913 - Present
  • Headquarters:
    St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Business:
    Insulation products
  • Asbestos Trust:
    Yes
  • Bankruptcy Status:
    Filed in 2002 and restructured in 2004

Western MacArthur’s History with Asbestos

In 1913, the MacArthur Company began manufacturing asbestos-containing pipe covering. The company merged with Western Asbestos in the 1960s to form Western MacArthur, and it continued making asbestos products until the late 1970s.

Like many other companies in its line of business, Western MacArthur used asbestos fibers in its insulation products because the fibers added strength, durability and heat resistance.

The use of asbestos eventually resulted in litigation from former employees and industry workers who got sick from handling Western MacArthur’s products.

Development of the Western Asbestos Settlement Trust

Thousands of asbestos lawsuits compromised the company’s finances and forced Western MacArthur to file for bankruptcy in November 2002.

It emerged from bankruptcy in 2004 and established the Western Asbestos Settlement Trust with $2 billion to handle outstanding and future asbestos claims.

The trust has paid out more than $1.1 billion in claims. In 2018, the trust released a third amendment that listed the average case value for California claimants as $276,479 for mesothelioma and $62,046 for lung cancer.

In June 2019, the trust increased its payment percentage to 51.1%. This percentage is significantly higher than the average paid by other asbestos trusts.

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Asbestos Litigation Involving Western MacArthur

Western MacArthur and its predecessor, Western Asbestos, have been named in thousands of asbestos lawsuits.

Case of Janice C. Hughes

One case example involved Janice C. Hughes, the widow of an asbestos worker, who filed a wrongful death claim after her husband died of mesothelioma in 1987. Her husband worked for Western Asbestos from 1944 to 1967. He was diagnosed in 1977 with both asbestosis and mesothelioma and died the following year.

Hughes lost the original judgment but won the appeal in 1987, which led to Western MacArthur being held responsible for her husband’s illness and death.

Western MacArthur’s Asbestos Products & Workers at Risk

Asbestos-containing products manufactured by Western MacArthur include:

  • 7-V Insulation Cement
  • 1-V Insulation Cement
  • No. 1 Insulation Cement
  • No. 28 Insulation Cement
  • MacArthur Company Low Pressure Pipe Cover
  • Unifil Vermiculite Insulation

The company’s asbestos products exposed employees, construction workers and anyone who worked with the products on the job, putting them at risk for health issues such as mesothelioma.

The occupations most at risk of exposure to Western MacArthur’s asbestos products include:

  • Insulators
  • Machinists
  • Plumbers
  • Electricians
  • Boiler workers
  • Construction workers
  • Maintenance workers
  • Industrial workers
  • Factory workers
  • Power plant workers
  • Shipyard workers
  • Veterans of the armed forces

Construction workers who installed or uninstalled Western MacArthur insulation products came into direct contact with the asbestos. In addition, anyone living near a Western MacArthur manufacturing facility when they made asbestos products could be at risk for health issues.

Western MacArthur insulation was widely used in the construction of buildings, some of which still stand and continue to pose an asbestos exposure risk.

Western MacArthur’s History

MacArthur Co. is a distributor of insulation, roofing and HVAC products. It was formed in 1913 as a manufacturer of pipe insulation.

In 1967, the MacArthur Company merged with Western Asbestos to form Western MacArthur, which continued to focus primarily on manufacturing asbestos pipe insulation.

Despite filing for bankruptcy in 2002, MacArthur Co. remained one of the largest suppliers in the construction industry for various insulation products and accessories. It has more than 50 locations throughout the U.S. to support a national distribution system.

Today, the company distributes insulation materials, HVAC products, roofing solutions, widows, siding and other construction materials.


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