Foster Wheeler Corporation

With a rich history in engineering and construction, the Foster Wheeler Corporation established itself as a renowned player in these industries for several decades. Forming in 1927, Foster Wheeler was involved in major projects around the world, leaving a lasting impact on various sectors. The company merged with Amec PLC in 2014, and the new entity was then acquired by John Wood Group PLC three years later.

Over its decades of operation, Foster Wheeler’s solutions contributed to significant advancements in engineering, particularly in the fields of energy, oil and gas, and chemical processing. However, this progress came at a price for many of the corporation’s workers – in recent decades, Foster Wheeler has faced legal challenges related to asbestos exposure and its associated health risks.

Like many companies in similar industries, Foster Wheeler utilized asbestos in their operations due to its heat-resistant and insulating properties. Unfortunately, this exposed workers to potential health hazards, leading to cases of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma.

Asbestos Lawsuits Against Foster Wheeler

Since the 1970s, Foster Wheeler has been fighting asbestos claims lodged by former employees who claim that their work environment contributed to their mesothelioma diagnosis, including the following examples:

  • Robert Hilt died of lung disease linked to asbestos exposure while working on shipyards in the 1960s and 1970s. A case was brought by his widow, Geraldine, who alleged that Foster Wheeler was liable for the damages. Foster Wheeler was originally granted summary judgment in this case, but that was overturned on appeal to a federal appeals court.
  • Richard Walmach, who had been exposed to asbestos while working near Foster Wheeler boilers in the navy and at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, tragically passed away from mesothelioma in 2006. His family filed a lawsuit against Foster Wheeler and other companies, resulting in a settlement of $5.2 million, with Foster Wheeler held liable for $2.66 million of the amount.
  • Valent Rabovsky, a millwright who worked starting from the 1950s, tragically passed away from mesothelioma. Both Valent and his widow attributed his illness to asbestos-containing products he encountered during his work. They filed a lawsuit against Foster Wheeler and others, seeking damages. The jury awarded Mrs. Rabovsky $1.085 million, holding Foster Wheeler 20% liable for the damages.
  • Alfred Todak filed a lawsuit after developing pleural mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos fibers in a Foster Wheeler marine boiler. As a naval electrician, Todak was exposed to asbestos while working. A San Francisco jury found Foster Wheeler responsible for Todak’s injuries and awarded him $22.7 million in damages. Additionally, Todak’s wife received $11 million for loss of consortium.
  • In 2019, the wife of a man who worked with Foster Wheeler boilers in a Louisiana paper mill, Lynda Berry, developed peritoneal mesothelioma. She attributed her illness to the asbestos fibers brought home on her husband’s clothing. The jury upheld the verdict, holding Foster Wheeler liable for $2.25 million in damages.

According to one report, Foster Wheeler anticipates defending itself in mesothelioma cases until 2050, and has set aside hundreds of millions of dollars to prepare for litigation and compensation payouts.

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Occupations and Industries Affected By Foster Wheeler’s Operations

Due to the wide-ranging nature of Foster Wheeler’s business activities, several different occupations were at risk from asbestos exposure. 

Several of Foster Wheeler’s products needed to be manufactured to withstand extreme heat, such as boilers, steam generators and other components. Asbestos was commonly used in these activities,  but this meant that Foster Wheeler’s factory employees were at significant risk from inhaling asbestos fibers. The fibers become lodged in a person’s lungs, and can cause diseases like mesothelioma.

In addition, the family and loved ones of Foster Wheeler employees were at risk of secondary asbestos exposure. This occurred when workers would return home with asbestos fibers on their clothing. When handled or disturbed, the clothing could cause the fibers to be dispensed into the air, where they could potentially have been breathed into the lungs by anyone else living in the home.

Foster Wheeler was also instrumental in supplying the U.S. Navy and other armed forces in the lead up to, and during, World War II. The Navy specified that asbestos be used in their products due to its heat-resistant and fireproof properties, but ultimately, this put naval workers, military personnel, shipyard workers and others at risk of mesothelioma.

Level Of Mesothelioma Risk For Foster Wheeler Employees

Naval workers, insulators and factory workers are considered high-risk occupations for mesothelioma. As Foster Wheeler employees were involved in the manufacturing process of several products which used asbestos, it is likely that they came in close contact with the toxic fibers. Many of these products were required to be heat-resistant – either because asbestos was a cheaper product than alternatives, or because it was mandated by institutions like the Navy

Foster Wheeler Products Containing Asbestos

Foster Wheeler manufactured several products containing asbestos, including:

  • Boiler components
  • Steam generators
  • Steam drums
  • Insulating cement
  • Valves
  • Gaskets
  • Marine boilers

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.

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Court Denies, in Part, Plaintiffs’ Appeal of Summary Judgment for Various Defendants [May 2023]

Lynda Berry v. ANCO Insulations, et al [May 2019]

Amec Foster Wheeler faces £310m bill to settle asbestos-related claims [August 2017]

Sawyer v. Foster Wheeler LLC, No. 16-1530 (4th Cir. 2017)

Grant v. Foster Wheeler, LLC [June 2016]

Moran v. Foster Wheeler Energy Corp. [April 2016]

Davis v. Foster Wheeler Energy Corp. [April 2012]

Foster Wheeler L.L.C. v Affiliated FM Ins. Co. [March 2010]

Andrews v. Foster Wheeler [March 2006]

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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.

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