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In the mid-1980s, C.E. Thurston & Sons entered into a claims agreement with 33 other companies and 16 insurers, all with ties to asbestos manufacturing sales and installation. The Wellington Agreement created an asbestos claims facility that would evaluate, defend and settle asbestos cases. It only lasted two years before companies began opting out.

In the early 2000s, Thurston tried to enact a similar agreement, called the Center for Claims Resolution, to resolve asbestos claims. The Center for Claims Resolution fell apart as well. CE Thurston & Sons Inc went on to file for bankruptcy.

History of C.E. Thurston & Sons

C.E. Thurston, founded in 1919 by Clinton E. Thurston Sr., provided services for mechanical packing manufacturers in Virginia. The company later added insulation and refractory product installation, repair and removal services to its business offerings.

By 1949, the company changed its name to C.E. Thurston & Sons, Inc. The company worked as a commercial, industrial and marine contractor in the coastal town of Norfolk, Virginia. C.E. Thurston & Sons primarily worked with companies that dealt with extreme temperatures – both hot and cold

While C.E. Thurston & Sons never manufactured insulation with asbestos, the company worked with asbestos-containing products that were produced and distributed by others.  C.E. Thurston & Sons stopped working with asbestos in the late 1970s

Exposed to Asbestos

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C.E. Thurston & Sons Asbestos Products

Throughout court and trust documents, the CE Thurston asbestos trust admits asbestos was used in its products. However, the company was a specialty contractor and never mined or manufactured the toxic material. CE Thurston & Sons provided insulation products for facilities in 13 states, mostly near the eastern seaboard and Virginia shipyards.

Thurston used asbestos-containing products that provided insulation from extreme cold and heat, including wallboards, joint compounds, canvas and blankets.


C.E. Thurston & Sons Occupational Exposure

C.E. Thurston & Sons employees, contractors, installers, removers and other workers are at risk for developing mesothelioma and other related diseases.

C.E. Thurston & Sons installed, maintained and removed asbestos-containing insulation in the sprawling shipbuilding industry in the Virginia area, including at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

Some of the occupations that could have been exposed to asbestos-containing products installed, maintained or distributed by C.E. Thurston & Sons include:

  • Shipyard builders
  • Insulators
  • Contractors
  • Chemical plant workers
  • Asbestos abatement specialists
  • Industrial workers
  • Paper mill workers
  • Railroad workers
  • Tobacco factory workers
  • Members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard

The CE Thurston trust identifies more than 140 locations in Virginia and North Carolina with known asbestos-containing materials. The sites related to the Thurston trust include DuPont, Smithfield Packing Company and the NASA Langley Research Center.


Secondary Exposure

In addition to CE Thurston workers and contractors who were directly exposed to asbestos-containing products, many of their loved ones were as well. Secondary exposure, also called second-hand exposure, happens when family members of asbestos-exposed workers become exposed themselves.

Company executives, including those at C.E. Thurston & Sons, kept asbestos toxicity a secret from the early days of modern industrial asbestos use.

That means employees and contractors worked without any knowledge of the dangers. They were not given protective clothing or warned to change clothes before going home.

Asbestos-exposed workers instead arrived at home, hugged family members and put their work clothes in the laundry. Secondary exposure is common among spouses and children.


C.E. Thurston & Sons Litigation

C.E. Thurston & Sons faced lawsuits regarding its distribution of asbestos even before the company filed for bankruptcy. One of the cases, in 1997, was precedent-setting in asbestos litigation. The case involved a Navy veteran and the government’s Federal Enclave Clause, which protects federal lands from asbestos lawsuits.

In the case, Edana Cochran filed a lawsuit against C.E. Thurston & Sons in the asbestos-related death of her husband. Cochran’s husband was a Navy veteran who served on the USS Nimitz, which was docked at a federal enclave – the Norfolk Naval Base — for part of his tour.  In the case, the court decided a Navy vessel is not a federal enclave.

The decision in McCormick v. C. E. Thurston & Sons is often cited in asbestos cases because it shows that Navy vessels are not exempt from asbestos litigation under the Federal Enclave Clause.


Settlements and Payment Percentage

Unlike other asbestos trusts, the CE Thurston trust will only process claims as expedited reviews. That means the trust will only review claims based on the five established disease levels.

Each disease level has a scheduled payment value.

Disease Compensation
Mesothelioma (Level V) $25,000
Lung Cancer (Level IV) $4,650
Other Cancer (Level III) $1,400
Disabling Severe Asbestosis (Level II) $4,070
Non-Malignant Disease (Level I) $500

The trust also established maximum values for each disease level:

Disease Compensation
Mesothelioma (Level V) $50,000
Lung Cancer (Level IV) $10,000
Other Cancer (Level III) $2,000
Disabling Severe Asbestosis (Level II) $7,200
Non-Malignant Disease (Level I) $N/A

To be eligible for a trust settlement, claimants must meet medical and exposure criteria, as follows:

Mesothelioma (Level V)

Claimants must have a diagnosis of mesothelioma and credible evidence of exposure to C.E. Thurston asbestos.

Lung Cancer (Level IV)

  • Claimants must have a diagnosis of primary lung cancer and provide evidence of six months of occupational exposure to C.E. Thurston asbestos before 1982.
  • Claimants must provide supporting medical documentation stating asbestos was a contributing factor in the lung cancer.
  • Claimants must also prove “significant occupational exposure” to asbestos, which is defined as the following:
  • Employment of at least five cumulative years (with at least two years before 1982) handling raw asbestos daily, or
  • Fabricating asbestos-containing products with raw asbestos, or
  • Altering, repairing or working with asbestos-containing products, or
  • Employment in an occupation that required regular work near workers handling, fabricating or repairing asbestos or asbestos-containing products.

Other Cancer (Level III)

  • Claimants must have a primary diagnosis of colorectal, laryngeal, esophageal, pharyngeal or stomach cancer and provide evidence of at least six months of occupational exposure to C.E. Thurston asbestos-containing products before 1982.
  • Claimants must also prove significant occupational exposure and provide medical documentation that shows asbestos was a contributing factor in the cancer.
  • Claimants must also have documentation that shows evidence of an underlying bilateral asbestos-related non-malignant disease. The documentation can include a physician’s report that shows the claimant had an X-ray or CT reading showing significant lung damage (including bilateral interstitial fibrosis, bilateral interstitial markings or bilateral pleural plaques).

Disabling Severe Asbestosis (Level II)

  • Claimants must have a diagnosis of asbestosis with radiologic and pathologic evidence that shows severely reduced lung capacity and provide evidence of six months of occupational exposure to C.E. Thurston asbestos-containing products before 1982.
  • Claimants must be able to document significant occupational exposure and provide medical records that shows asbestos was a contributing factor in the pulmonary disease in question.

Non-Malignant Disease (Level I)

  • The claimant must have a diagnosis of a bilateral asbestos-related non-malignant disease. The documentation can include radiological evidence of bilateral pleural plaques, bilateral pleural thickening or bilateral pleural calcification.
  • Claimants must also document six months of occupational exposure to C.E. Thurston asbestos-containing products before 1982, show significant occupational exposure and provide medical records that show asbestos was a contributing factor in the non-malignant pulmonary disease.

In general, all claims must include a physician’s statement specifying that at least ten years have elapsed between the date of initial asbestos exposure and the diagnosis or a history of exposure sufficient to establish a ten-year latency period. A physician’s finding stating the disease is “consistent with” or “compatible with” an asbestos-related disease is not enough for a claim.

Claimants must also provide evidence of exposure to C.E. Thurston asbestos specifically. Evidence can include a claimant, co-worker or family member affidavit, invoices, employment records, construction records or other credible evidence.

All claims are paid in a first-in, first-out (FIFO) order and are subject to a 50% payment percentage, which means claimants are paid 50% of their settlement award. For example, a claimant who is awarded $25,000 for a mesothelioma claim would receive $12,500.  The trust also allows for secondary and exigent hardship claims.

If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos products installed, maintained or removed by C.E. Thurston & Sons and have developed severe lung disease, contact us now for more information.

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Reviewed by Daniel Wasserberg

Attorney and On-Site Legal Advocate

Daniel Wasserberg was a New York metropolitan area “Super Lawyer Rising Star” from 2013 to 2018 (attorneys under age 40), and a Super Lawyer in 2019. In 2017, Daniel was named a “Top 100 Civil Litigator” by the National Trial Lawyers organization. This recognition is rarely awarded to attorneys under the age of 40. Daniel is proud to call himself a Trial Lawyer, and is often asked to speak at gatherings of the nation’s leading attorneys, from both sides of the bar.

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