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Raybestos became the second-largest U.S. asbestos manufacturer. Johns-Manville was the first.  At the same time, a wave of asbestos-related lawsuits began overwhelming the company.

In 1982, Raybestos changed its name to Raymark to remove the company’s association with asbestos and stopped making asbestos-containing products.

Through 1988, the company fought to block asbestos litigation and show injured workers in a bad light. In 1989, the company simultaneously defended against asbestos litigation from injured workers while facing court action from the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for environmental damage from asbestos, lead and other hazardous materials.

In 2001, after a U.S. Supreme Court decision, Raytech reached an agreement regarding the environmental damage and emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

History of Raybestos-Manhattan with Asbestos

The history of the Raybestos asbestos trust began in 1902 with the start of the A.H. Raymond Company in Bridgeport, Conn. In 1916, the company changed its name to Raybestos, reflecting its use of asbestos.

Raybestos produced asbestos-containing automotive parts, including clutch facings, brakes, brake linings and valves and other asbestos-containing products including ropes, yarn, cloth, other textiles and insulating materials.

In 1929, Raybestos merged with the Manhattan Rubber Manufacturing Company, creating the Raybestos-Manhattan Friction Materials Company. With the merger, the company also made industrial rubber parts containing asbestos.

Over the years, the company built asbestos-containing products that were used during World War II and for modern advancements in vehicles. Raybestos products were also used to advance the U.S. space program from the late 1950s through the 1960s. The company also acquired Breku Reibbelag GmbH & Co., a West German-based clutch facing maker, and Milford Rivet & Machine Co., a Connecticut based rivet and rivet-setting machine manufacturer.

Overwhelmed with asbestos litigation, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1989. The bankruptcy trust launched in 2001 with $52 million. The trust currently pays a payment percentage of 0.92%.

Over the years, Raybestos has been sued for more than $300 billion in damage for personal injury and environmental damages.

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Raybestos Asbestos Containing Products

In its long history, Raytech, Raybestos and all of the associated companies manufactured and distributed numerous asbestos-containing products. The products include:

  • Aircraft parts
  • Aprons
  • Blankets
  • Brake lining sets
  • Brake linings
  • Brake pads
  • Brass rivets
  • Clutch linings
  • Clutches
  • Conveyor belts
  • Drum brakes
  • Felt
  • Fire curtains
  • Fire hose
  • Industrial belt drives
  • Laminated plastics
  • Packing material
  • Rope
  • Tape
  • Textiles
  • Valves
  • Yarn

Today, Brake Parts Inc. continues to produce brake parts under the Raybestos brand. Since asbestos is not outlawed in the United States, some brake parts being manufactured in 2020 still contain asbestos.


Occupational Asbestos Exposure

When the Raymark asbestos trust launch, the trustees determined specific occupations were more susceptible to exposure to the company’s asbestos-containing products. Among the hundreds of professions associated with the trust include:

  • Acoustical Worker
  • Air Conditioning Installer/Repairer
  • Caster
  • Caulker
  • Construction Mechanic
  • Cutter
  • Dryer Operator
  • Electrician
  • Gas Welder
  • Heavy Equipment Operator
  • High-Temperature Machine Operator
  • Ironworker
  • Lagger
  • Powerhouse Mechanic
  • Service members (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard)
  • Ship Engineer
  • Ship Firefighter
  • Ship Repairer
  • Shipfitter
  • Steelman
  • Submarine Engineer
  • Utility Maintenance Oiler

Secondary Asbestos Exposure

Individuals who shared a living space with a Raytech or Raybestos employee are at a high risk of developing mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases, including lung cancer, asbestosis or pulmonary fibrosis.  Since Raytech or Raybestos employees were not provided with protective gear, they brought asbestos fibers home with them in their hair and clothing.  Family members, including spouses and children, were exposed to asbestos at home.


Raybestos Contamination Sites

Over the years, Raybestos and Raymark were cited in Connecticut and Pennsylvania for damaging the environment by carelessly using toxic materials:

Connecticut

From about 1920 to the early 1990s, Raybestos manufactured its asbestos-containing friction products out of its headquarters in Stratford, Conn. Rather than properly disposing of the toxic materials, which also included lead and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), the company dried the waste products and made the materials available as fill materials for schoolyards, playgrounds and lawns. Since then, the rate of cancers in the area, including mesothelioma, has been higher than average.

In the mid-1990s, the 34-acre location was declared a Superfund site. Currently, the state and federal environmental agencies are in the final stages of cleanup.

In 2018, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) drafted a restoration plan for the Housatonic River, where Raybestos once dumped toxic materials. The river runs through Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Pennsylvania

Raybestos operated two Pennsylvania plants, and both have been contaminated with asbestos. The metal fabrication plant in Hatboro was added as a federal Superfund site in 1989 after toxic contaminants were found in the groundwater. Tests conducted in 2018 found no signs of contaminants in the air.

The plant in Manheim, which operated from 1906 to 1998, was added to the state Brownfield Action Team program after pollutants were found in the groundwater and soil. Cleanup activities are continuing.


Asbestos Litigation vs. Raybestos

Shortly after the Raybestos asbestos-related litigation started, the company’s leaders began vigorously defending the use of asbestos. The company went as far as suing law firms that represented asbestos victims.

Over the years, Raytech had scores of legal entanglements, including:

  • In Stevens v. Raymark, the widow of a former Raymark employee was awarded benefits following her husband’s death from asbestosis in 2000.
  • In 2018, a three-judge panel in Beaumont, Texas awarded $140 million to over 2,000 refinery and chemical workers. The case started as a class-action lawsuit in 1990.
  • In 2012, a man who handled Raybestos asbestos-containing brake parts was awarded $2.1 million. The man worked as a plumber but spent a lot of time working on car and truck brakes.

Raytech Corporation Settlement Payouts

The Raytech Corporation Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust established two levels of claims, but only pays on Level One claims. Level Two claimants are paid only when the trustees determine there are sufficient assets in the trust.

Level One Claims encompass four categories of asbestos disease and are assigned a monetary value:

Disease Compensation
Category I – Malignant Mesothelioma $125,000
Category II – Lung Cancer $41,200
Category III – Other Cancer $21,500
Category IV – Severely Disabling Asbestosis $41,200

Level Two Claims encompass two categories of asbestos disease:

  • Category V – Other Asbestosis
  • Category VI – Pleural Disease

The trust also pays extraordinary, exigent-health and extreme-hardship claims. All claims are paid in a first-in, first-out (FIFO) order.

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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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