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Pittsburgh Corning is facing hundreds of thousands of personal injury claims. The company worked closely with UNARCO Industries to develop Unibestos asbestos-containing pipe insulation and insulation block. The products were so dangerous that federal regulators forced the Pittsburgh Corning’s Tyler, Texas, plant closed in 1972 and the equipment buried.

The Pittsburgh Corning trust is one of the largest in the United States, totaling $3.5 billion. Litigation against the company began in 1977 when more than 475 former employees of the Texas plant filed a class action that was later settled for $20 million.

Just before Pittsburgh Corning filed for bankruptcy protection in 2000, it resolved more than 200,000 injury lawsuits. Another 235,000 were put on hold during the 16-year bankruptcy proceeding that ended in April 2016.

Employees who worked at Pittsburgh Corning plants in Tyler, Texas, and Port Allegany, Penn., are at risk of developing mesothelioma. Workers at naval facilities, shipyards, steel mills, oil refineries, petrochemical plants and industrial sites are also at risk for developing asbestos-related diseases if Unibestos products were used.

Pittsburgh Corning Asbestos Lawsuits

The late 1970s marked a turning point in Pittsburgh Corning asbestos lawsuits when about 400 workers at the company’s shuttered Tyler, Texas, plant fell ill with asbestos-related diseases. The company settled with the plaintiffs for about $20 million, with the funding coming from a variety of sources:

  • Pittsburgh Corning – $8 million
  • UNARCO (asbestos manufacturer) – $1 million
  • Cape Industries (asbestos supplier) – $5.2 million
  • Federal government (Unibestos product purchaser) – $5.7 million

In the years that followed the 1970s, Pittsburgh Corning was deluged with litigation:

  • In 1981, Pittsburgh Corning was facing up to 20,000 open asbestos claims. By 1985, the number rose to 75,000 claims.
  • In 1988, David Simpson died after working for years with Pittsburgh-Corning’s Unibestos thermal steam pipe insulation that contained asbestos. His wife was awarded $2.3 million from Pittsburgh Corning and other companies.
  • In 1997, Robert Dunham died as a result of exposure to Pittsburgh Corning insulation and other asbestos-containing materials. Dunham, a chemical operator for Corning, had developed lung cancer. His wife was awarded $19.3 million.
  • In 1990, Adella Cimino filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of nearly 2,300 factory workers exposed to asbestos products manufactured by Pittsburgh Corning and other companies. By the time the case settled in 2018, most plaintiffs, including Cimino, had died. The injured workers and their families were awarded $178 million.

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Pittsburgh Corning Asbestos Settlement  Payouts

The Pittsburgh Corning Corporation Asbestos PI Trust identified eight asbestos-related diseases eligible for compensation. Each disease has a predetermined settlement amount (based on medical and exposure criteria.)

The trust also established two types of review procedures so claimants can have equitable access to compensation, depending on their situations:

Expedited Review

An expedited review, used by a majority of claimants, is designed to provide quick access to compensation for most claims (except Lung Cancer 2 (Level VI) which requires an individual review.):

Disease Compensation
Mesothelioma (Level VIII) $175,000
Lung Cancer 1 (Level VII) $47,500
Lung Cancer 2 (Level VI) None
Other Cancer (Level V)  $27,500
Severe Asbestosis (Level IV)s $47,500
Asbestosis/ Pleural Disease (Level III) $11,750
Asbestosis/ Pleural Disease (Level II) $5,500
Other Asbestos Disease (Level I) $400

Individual Review

Individuals who do not meet the medical and exposure criteria of any of the disease levels can elect for an individual review. The amount of compensation depends on several factors determined by the trustees.

Compensation can fall between the scheduled value (as noted in the expedited review), average value and maximum value.

Average Value:

Disease Compensation
Mesothelioma (Level VIII) $200,000
Lung Cancer 1 (Level VII) $50,000
Lung Cancer 2 (Level VI) $20,000
Other Cancer (Level V) $30,000
Severe Asbestosis (Level IV)s $50,000
Asbestosis/ Pleural Disease (Level III) $12,500
Asbestosis/ Pleural Disease (Level II) $6,000
Other Asbestos Disease (Level I) None

Maximum Value:

Disease Compensation
Mesothelioma (Level VIII) $200,000
Lung Cancer 1 (Level VII) $50,000
Lung Cancer 2 (Level VI) $20,000
Other Cancer (Level V) $30,000
Severe Asbestosis (Level IV)s $50,000
Asbestosis/ Pleural Disease (Level III) $12,500
Asbestosis/ Pleural Disease (Level II) $6,000
Other Asbestos Disease (Level I) None

Pittsburgh Corning Trust Payment Percentage

The Pittsburgh Corning Trust, like other asbestos trust funds, pays a percentage of the amount awarded. The Pittsburgh Corning pays 24.5% as of November 2022. A claimant who was awarded $175,000 under a mesothelioma expedited review would receive 24.5% of the award, or $42,875.

The trust also developed a 60/40 split for claims on malignant and nonmalignant diseases. That is, 60% of the overall trust money goes to malignant patients and 40% goes to nonmalignant patients. The split allows the trust money to be more evenly distributed to claimants who are most sick.

Pittsburgh Corning Asbestos History

Pittsburgh Corning was founded in 1937 as a joint venture between two prominent glassmakers, Corning Glass Works and Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company (PPG). Early on, the company solely produced architectural glass blocks.

In 1961, Corning entered into an agreement with UNARCO Industries to produce the Unibestos product line, which contained up to 90% amosite asbestos, one of the deadliest forms of the mineral.

Before Pittsburgh Corning entered into the UNARCO deal, Corning was warned about the dangers of asbestos. In a 1975 court case, scientist Richard Gaze testified he advised Corning before the UNARCO deal that workers needed to be protected. Gaze, who worked for an asbestos supplier, testified that he continually warned Corning of the dangers for ten years.

Beginning in 1962, Pittsburgh Corning manufactured the Unibestos product line in Texas and Pennsylvania plants. From 1964 to 1971, Corning employed industrial hygiene consultant Morton Corn, who urged the company to improve plant ventilation and limit worker access to asbestos. No changes were made until the company stopped producing asbestos-containing products in 1972.

How was the Trust Formed?

Court documents and testimony show Pittsburgh Corning knew about the dangers associated with asbestos but kept it hidden to increase profits.

Corning filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April 2000 after being overwhelmed with asbestos-related legal claims. After years of legal wrangling, the courts accepted the reorganization plan in 2016, which included the trust funding agreement.

In 2017, Pittsburgh Corning was acquired by Owens Corning, which is also known for its asbestos use. Today, Pittsburgh Corning is still responsible for its past asbestos liabilities and trust fund.

Hazardous Occupations

Pittsburgh Corning knowingly exposed their workers to products that contained asbestos. The following occupations represent the highest risk jobs for asbestos exposure.

  • Pipefitters
  • General contractors
  • Insulation workers
  • Machinists
  • Field service technicians
  • Refinery specialists
  • Heavy machine operators
  • Pipecoverers

Pittsburgh Corning Asbestos Products

Additional products in the Pittsburgh Corning and Unibestos lines included the following:

  • Temp-mat asbestos blanket
  • High-temperature pipe insulation
  • Rubberized gaskets
  • Molded sheet insulation
  • Molded block insulation

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Written and legally 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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