Ford Motor Company

There’s little doubt that the Ford logo and brand are synonymous with American culture. 2023 sees the Ford Motor Company mark its 120th anniversary – it was way back in 1903 when Henry Ford founded the organization in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. Since that date, the Ford brand has become instantly recognizable around the world; it sold the most cars in the United States in 2022, and is the fifth largest vehicle manufacturer in the world based on vehicle production.

Due to the nature of their jobs, workers operating in Ford Motor Company plants were at high-risk of asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma. Products were made using asbestos due to their heat-resistant and durable properties, but this posed health risks to workers exposed to the toxic fibers.

In recent decades, Ford has been the subject of several lawsuits and litigation efforts regarding mesothelioma and asbestos diseases. The company even invested millions of dollars in financing studies to try and downplay the risk between their operations and mesothelioma. Ford was also fined in 2013 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for a number of serious breaches relating to asbestos exposure at its plant in Buffalo, NY.

Asbestos Lawsuits Against Ford Motor Company

In recent decades, Ford Motor Company has been the subject of several lawsuits regarding their use of asbestos, the risk posed to workers, and the lack of safety precautions in place. The company has been ordered to pay out millions of dollars in compensation.

A 1996 ruling in Baltimore ordered Ford to pay out significant sums in compensation to the widows of two workers who had died of mesothelioma. $8 million was paid to the widow of Keith K. Grewe Sr., who had worked as a mechanic on Ford brakes between 1957 and 1992. Diagnosed with mesothelioma in 1993, Grewe died just a matter of months later.

The widow of Nollie P. Wood Sr. received a $6.3 million payout in compensation. Wood had been exposed to asbestos between 1948 and 1952, but didn’t succumb to mesothelioma until almost four decades later in 1990. This demonstrates how the effects of mesothelioma can linger in the body, even after several decades have passed.

Even in just the last couple of years, Ford has paid out millions in compensation as a result of rulings finding their asbestos practices were negligent.

In 2021, Ford paid $8.2 million to a mechanic in Louisiana who was diagnosed with mesothelioma. The mechanic, Steven Aaron Sr., performed repairs in the 1960s and 1970s. The jury found that Ford was negligent in informing auto mechanics of the risks associated with asbestos exposure.

Most recently, in November 2022, a jury in St Louis, Missouri ruled that Ford and other companies had to pay $6 million in compensation to the family of Linda Behling. Behling, who passed away at the age of 70 due to mesothelioma, worked in manufacturing plants in Springfield, MO. The jury agreed that Ford failed to provide sufficient warnings about the asbestos dust created when repairing brakes.

Ford has aggressively attempted to “reshape” the science around asbestos exposure. They have spent almost $40 million in efforts to fund journals and scientific papers which attempt to minimize – or even eliminate – the link between mesothelioma and the work done by employees such as brake mechanics. Critics have alleged that this is an attempt at scientific misdirection.

See If You Qualify For Mesothelioma Compensation Today!

Our experts help you recover your share of the $30bn set aside for victims of mesothelioma. We help you pre-qualify and apply for free - no lawsuit or court appearance required.

Find Out More

Occupations and Industries Affected

Individuals working as auto mechanics were the main workers at risk from Ford’s use of asbestos in their products. These employees came into contact with asbestos on a daily basis, as several components were manufactured containing asbestos.

Ford used asbestos in many of their products up until the early 1980s, when the dangers became fully understood. Asbestos had been chosen for its durability, resistance to heat, and the fact that it was cheaper than other materials. A 1971 internal memo showed that Ford was exploring the possibility of a metal and carbon alternative to asbestos,, but the “cost penalty” was too severe (that cost would have amounted to an extra $1.25 per vehicle for front-end brakes).

In addition to auto mechanics, it is also possible that other Ford workers, such as factory workers, maintenance employees and other on-site staff may have come into contact with asbestos. Individuals working on their own private vehicles using Ford components may also have encountered asbestos exposure when changing brake lines or clutches.

As a secondary risk, families of any of the aforementioned groups may have been exposed to asbestos in their homes. Asbestos fibers can collect on work uniforms and clothing; if these were then handled and disturbed, the toxic mineral is thrown into the air, where it can be breathed into the lungs – resulting in mesothelioma.

Level Of Risk For Auto Mechanics

Auto mechanics are classed as medium-risk for mesothelioma. However, the extent to which they can be affected by asbestos-related diseases depends on the exact nature of their work, and the amount of time they spent doing that work.

For example, a mechanic who frequently worked on clutches and brakes was far more likely to be exposed to larger quantities of asbestos. When brakes grind together, dust particles can collect in the wheel well of the car. This dust can contain asbestos fibers which can become lodged in a person’s lungs, thus contributing to diseases like mesothelioma.

Ford Products Containing Asbestos

Ford sold a variety of automotive products which may have contained asbestos and put workers at risk of conditions like mesothelioma, including:

  • Brake pads
  • Brake linings
  • Clutch linings
  • Engines
  • Gaskets
  • Transmissions

These were sold under a variety of brand names, including Ford, Ford Authorized Remanufactured, Mercury and Motorcraft. Products containing asbestos were sold by Ford until 1983. However, workers who had been employed by Ford prior to that date, and helped to manufacture these products, are still at severe risk of suffering from conditions like mesothelioma today.

See If You Qualify For Mesothelioma Compensation Today!

Our experts help you recover your share of the $30bn set aside for victims of mesothelioma. We help you pre-qualify and apply for free - no lawsuit or court appearance required.

Find Out More

OSHA Ruling Against Ford

In 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ruled against Ford’s asbestos practices at its plant in Buffalo, NY.

Ford was found to be in violation of OSHA’s asbestos and respiratory protection standards. In total, OSHA recorded eight serious safety violations relating to asbestos at the Buffalo, NY plant, including:

  • A pipefitter working on a steam line was exposed to asbestos-containing material in its insulation;
  • Sufficient respiratory protection was not worn by workers exposed to asbestos-containing material;
  • Work was not conducted within a regulated and properly demarcated area to minimize the number of workers present;
  • Access to the area where asbestos work was conducted was not limited to authorized employees, and the employer did not perform monitoring to accurately assess the airborne concentrations of asbestos to which workers were potentially exposed.

$6 million awarded in asbestos lawsuit against Ford, others [November 2022]

Kevin Sinyard et al. v. Ford Motor Company [March 2022]

Knecht v. Ford Motor Company [January 2019]

Petitpas v. Ford Motor Co. [July 2017)

Needless exposure to asbestos: an OSHA citation in 2013 [July 2013]

Welsh v. Ford Motor Co. [February 2011]

Find Out if you Qualify

Fill out our quick form and see if you qualify for trust fund compensation

Check Now

Written and legally reviewed by Samuel Meirowitz

Attorney and On-Site Legal Advocate

Samuel Meirowitz is a member of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers.” Mr. Meirowitz was named a “Rising Star” in 2013 & 2014 by Super Lawyers and then a Super Lawyer every year since 2016. In 2013, Mr. Meirowitz obtained what is believed to be the first multi-million-dollar asbestos verdict seen in more than two decades in a New York federal court. In that highly contentious matter, Mr. Meirowitz was able to convince the jury to hold a boiler manufacturer responsible for 60 percent of the $3.8 million awarded, despite the defendant’s attempt to escape all blame by pointing fingers at the plaintiff’s employer and the U.S. Navy (in which the plaintiff admirably served from 1966-70 during the Vietnam conflict). This verdict was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Learn More