Originally started in the early 1900s as a metal bearing and bushing manufacturer, Federal-Mogul diversified its portfolio over the years to include a wide range of automotive and construction businesses, including Turner & Newall. Even though Turner & Newall was purchased years after it stopped producing asbestos-laden building materials, Federal-Mogul was still responsible for some nearly 400,000 asbestos-disease claims. As Federal-Mogul added more companies under its umbrella in the years that followed, asbestos claims skyrocketed to more than a half-million.
Federal-Mogul was created in 1899 through a partnership between a metal ball bearing manufacturer and a bushing producer. In the decades that followed, Federal-Mogul diversified and purchased scores of companies, including Turner & Newall, now known for its widespread and reckless use of asbestos. The United Kingdom-based T&N was one of the first companies in the world to industrialize asbestos.
In purchasing many of these companies, Federal-Mogul knew the potential liabilities from asbestos and set aside $2.1 billion to settle claims. As asbestos claims began, Federal-Mogul attempted to dodge bankruptcy by laying off employees and closing manufacturing plants. The company grossly underestimated the extent and cost of the claims and, in 2001, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. By 2007, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court confirmed the fourth amended joint plan of reorganization. Today, Federal-Mogul operates in 34 countries through 169 manufacturing, distribution and technical facilities.
Federal-Mogul’s core company did not involve asbestos use, but the company exposed itself to asbestos liability after purchasing several businesses that dealt directly with asbestos products. Some of the Federal-Mogul jobs most at risk for asbestos exposure include the following:
As a result of the bankruptcy, Federal-Mogul was ordered to establish trusts for its subsidiaries facing the most asbestos liabilities. There are at least four Federal-Mogul trusts funded with a total of $685 million: Federal-Mogul Products, Turner & Newall, Fel-Pro and Vellumoid.
Like other asbestos trusts, Federal-Mogul only pays claimants a percentage of the requested funds. This ensures there will be enough money for current and future claims.
The products made from the variety of Federal-Mogul businesses and affiliates predominately focus on automotive, construction and mechanical parts. Many lawsuits have focused on asbestos-containing automotive parts, building materials and manufacturing supplies. Known Federal-Mogul asbestos-containing components and equipment include:
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