Republic Powdered Metals (RPM) began in 1947 to manufacture the rustproof and weatherproof aluminum roof coating Alumanation, which is still sold today. While RPM, based in Ohio, grew in the coming decades through acquisitions and expansions, none were quite as significant as the purchase of Reardon Company in 1966. Reardon manufactured Bondex, a household patch and repair product made with asbestos materials.
RPM International Trust Fund Information
In the years between 2000 and 2010, RPM paid out $598 million in asbestos lawsuit settlements and awards to plaintiffs in Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Maryland, Ohio and Texas.
During the bankruptcy proceedings, the company initially planned to put $135 million in trust for current and future claimants. The judge, however, said the onslaught of claimants showed the company needed to put $1.2 billion in trust. Eventually, the trust was funded with $797.5 million, which represents a compromise between the company and the courts.
Under the terms of the bankruptcy settlement, the trust was initially funded with $450 million. In the three years that followed, RPM was instructed to add $102.5 million, $120 million and $125 million in cash, RPM stock or both.
In December 2019, the trust announced that claimants diagnosed with RPM mesothelioma or an asbestos-related disease before May 2010 had until January 15, 2020, to file a claim.
Today, RPM is a publicly traded company that goes under the name RPM International. The company, which manufactures coatings, sealants and chemicals, operates 139 facilities around the world and employs about 14,000 people.
Exposed to Asbestos
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Republic Powdered Metals Asbestos Litigation
RPM began defending itself against Bondex asbestos litigation in 1980. By 1999, RPM had paid a total of $1.6 million in lawsuit awards and settlements to asbestos victims.
When the lawsuits jumped in 2000, the court awards skyrocketed. Between 2000 and 2010, RPM paid between $43 million and nearly $83 million each year in asbestos awards. Some of the legal losses for RPM include:
- 2006: A California victim awarded $3.6 million as a result of Bondex exposure.
- 2009: A 70-year old asbestos-exposure victim awarded $4.5 million. The judge determined the victim, Robert Wagner, was exposed to asbestos-containing products manufactured by Bondex International and two other company’s products in the 1960s and 1970s. Wagner was diagnosed with mesothelioma in December 2006 and died six months later.
- 2010: A 67-year-old Texas man awarded an $11 million verdict. The judge agreed the man’s disease was a result of exposure to products made by Bondex and three other companies.
RPM paid almost $93 million in asbestos-litigation costs in a one-year period that ended in May 2010. Nearly $43 million of the expense was for legal defense.
RPM Bondex Asbestos Exposure
People who have the most significant risk for asbestos exposure from Bondex are those who did any form of repairs or construction, from do-it-yourself projects to homebuilding. The RPM/Bondex trust names dozens of occupations susceptible to RPM asbestos-containing products:
- Boiler repair Technicians
- Construction Workers
- Demolition Workers
- Drywall Tapers
- Hopper Loaders
- Laboratory Technicians
Other Industries Known for Asbestos Exposure
The trust also identified industries that are known for significant RPM asbestos exposure, including:
- Iron and Steel
In addition to the RPM employees and contractors at risk for asbestos exposure, close family members and friends are also susceptible. Secondary exposure, also called take-home asbestos exposure, occurs when workers bring asbestos fibers home on their clothes or hair. Unsuspecting family members inhale the fibers during a hug or while doing laundry.
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RPM Products Containing Asbestos
RPM had several lines of products under many brand names, including Day-Glo, Mohawk, Kop-Coat and Chemspec. Bondex used asbestos in scores of products that were marketed under several names. All of the products were for construction applications. Some of the more popular products that fall under the RPM trust include:
- Bondex All-Purpose Joint Cement – Covered gaps in drywall.
- Bondex Alumanation Aluminum Roof Coating – Sealant used under roofing tiles
- Dramex Ready Mixed Textured Paint – Used to make a structure more fire-resistant
- SX Topping Cement – Flooring materials in industrial buildings and basements or concrete resurfacing
- Bondek/Bondex Roof Cement – Used in high heat areas to protect against weather extremes
- “Stays White” Mobile Home Roof Coating – Protective coating used on roofs
Republic Powdered Metals Asbestos Trust Common Payouts
Like other asbestos trusts, the RPM trust compensates asbestos-disease sufferers for related injuries. The trust established distribution procedures so claimants would be treated equally, based on the type of disease and severity. The distribution procedures provide cash settlements for eight levels of disease based on two types of review:
The expedited review delivers fast access to funds. Claimants must provide extensive documentation for a successful claim.
Once the application is completed and approved, claimants can expect to receive funding in 2 to 3 months. Claimants are paid according to the scheduled value for each disease level:
|Mesothelioma (Level VIII)||$80,000|
|Lung Cancer 1 (Level VII)||$33,333|
|Lung Cancer 2 (Level VI)||$0|
|Other Cancer (Level V)||$6,667|
|Severe Asbestosis (Level IV)||$16,667|
|Asbestosis/Pleural Disease (Level III)||$2,500|
|Asbestosis/Pleural Disease (Level II)||$800|
|Other Asbestos Disease (Level I)||$70|
Anyone turned down for an expedited review or who wants to pursue a more substantial settlement can opt for an individual evaluation. Trustees look at distinct individual factors related to the illness and then decide on a settlement amount. Trustees can also reject the application.
The RPM trust established the following maximum values and average amounts for individual reviews:
|Mesothelioma (Level VIII)||$300,000|
|Lung Cancer 1 (Level VII)||$120,000|
|Lung Cancer 2 (Level VI)||$22,000|
|Other Cancer (Level V)||$24,000|
|Severe Asbestosis (Level IV)||n/a|
|Asbestosis/Pleural Disease (Level III)||n/a|
|Asbestosis/Pleural Disease (Level II)||n/a|
|Other Asbestos Disease (Level I)||$70|
The current payment percentage (as of 2020) remains at 22%. That means a mesothelioma patient who was granted a $125,000 settlement under the individual review would receive $27,500. Most claimants seek settlements from several trusts because multiple companies expose them to asbestos.
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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.Learn More
- RPM International. History. Retrieved from https://www.rpminc.com/about-rpm/history/
- United States Bankruptcy Court For The Southern District Of Ohio, Western Division. Annual Report 2019. Retrieved from https://www.cpf-inc.com/assets/1/6/2019_EPI_Trust_Annual_Report.pdf
- Bondex Asbestos Trust. Retrieved from http://bondexasbestostrust.com/Resources.aspx
- Hals, Tom. “RPM reaches $797.5 million deal to resolve Bondex asbestos claims.” Reuters. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-rpm-intl-asbestos-settlement/rpm-reaches-797-5-million-deal-to-resolve-bondex-asbestos-claims-idUSKBN0FX1P320140728#649uDYmTj1VZCSIb.97%20Milfor,%20Phil%20and%20Church,%20Steven.%20%E2%80%9CRust-Oleum%20Maker%20to%20Pay%20$797.5%20Million%20to%20Asbestos%20Trust.%E2%80%9D
- Bloomberg Business. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-07-28/rpm-international-to-pay-797-million-for-asbestos-claims
- Respirology Case Reports. The significance of non-occupational asbestos exposure in women with mesothelioma. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6246071/