USG, also known as United States Gypsum Corporation, is the largest distributor of wallboards in the nation and the largest manufacturer of gypsum products in North America. The company also makes associated products that include joint compound, plasters and paints. Asbestos was a primary ingredient in many of the company’s most popular products, including Sheetrock brand gypsum panels and Fiberock brand panels.
USG has $4 billion in trust to help those with asbestos-related injuries, making it one of the largest asbestos trusts in the country. The company declared bankruptcy in 2001 after a flood of personal injury lawsuits related to asbestos claims. The trust started accepting claims in February 2007 and is designed to provide compensation for asbestos injuries related to all USG products. Anyone injured by USG products are eligible for compensation from the company’s trust fund.
USG did not warn its employees or customers about the potential problems with asbestos. Most of the USG asbestos-containing products were used in manufacturing, construction and remodeling industries between 1920 and 1978.
The following occupations are considered high risk for USG asbestos exposure:
- Ship Maintenance/ Ship Builders – Everyone who worked on, off or near ships is in danger of asbestos exposure. USG asbestos-containing products were used in ships and shipyards, including in wall insulation and roofing products. Anyone who installed or removed these products was likely exposed.
- Roofers – USG roofing materials, shingles and sidings were widely used across the United States because they resisted heat, fire and other dangers. Roof installers were never warned of the dangers of asbestos in USG roofing materials. Other products, including stucco finish coats, included asbestos as a main additive.
- Construction Workers/ Contractor – In addition to siding and shingles, asbestos was also widely used in cement products, including trowel and sprayed acoustical plaster. Construction workers and contractors, including those who worked in remodeling and remediation, are at high risk for developing asbestos-related diseases from USG products.
How was the US Gypsum Asbestos Trust formed?
Between the early 1920s and late 1970s, many of USG’s products contained asbestos because it was an inexpensive additive that was heat, fire and chemical resistant. USG employees and others were exposed to airborne asbestos. Wide-reaching public relations campaigns were used to convince the public asbestos was safe.
In the early 1990s, more than 45,000 USG workers or family members filed asbestos-related lawsuits. In one case, the city of Baltimore sued USG and won $8.16 million in compensatory damages and $4 million in punitive damages for the cost of removing asbestos from the city’s police headquarters. USG filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001 and the reorganization was approved by 2006. From that, the asbestos trust was born. It began accepting claims in 2007.
US Gypsum Asbestos Trust distribution
USG Trust claims are paid at 28.2 percent of the requested amount for both expedited and individual claim reviews. USG also handles asbestos injury claims for A.P. Green, a refractory products manufacturer that USG acquired in 1967. Compensation amounts are limited per person to ensure there is enough money to pay for future claims.
USG has several disease levels with specific scheduled values for financial compensation. They are as follows:
|Asbestosis/Pleural Disease||Up to $8,300|
USG Asbestos History
USG was formed in 1901 and merged and consolidated with some 30 companies from across the country. In the 1930s, the company expanded its product line to include insulation, ceiling panels and joint tapes. In the 1960s, it added cements and paints to its products portfolio. Asbestos was added to many of the products.
Early on, the United States Gypsum Company tested the ill effects of asbestos dust. In the early 1930s, the company employed a laboratory to study the effects of industrial dust including asbestos. Some research indicates the company knew as early as the 1940s the asbestos-cancer connection but never told its employees or consumers. Medical professionals were warning of the dangers as early as the 1920s.
USG’s Asbestos Products
Those who are most at risk for developing asbestos-related cancers not only include USG workers but also those in the construction and building trades. The injuries are not limited to hands-on trade jobs but also to supervisors, officer workers and other employees The specific products workers would have come into contact with are as follows:
- Durabond – This popular joint compound was manufactured from 1952 to 1976 with asbestos. On the company’s website, Durabond is now advertised as asbestos-free.
- Perf-A-Tape – Manufactured from 1944 through 1976, Perf-A-Tape was widely used to create a seamless look between plasterboard sheets.
- Red Top Structo-Lite – This gypsum plaster was manufactured from the late 1920s through the early 1950s.
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- Miller, James P. “Accord to resolve USG asbestos claims”. Retrieved from http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2006-01-31/business/0601310134_1_usg-shares-asbestos-liability-people-with-asbestos-related-illnesses
- West, Norris P. “Asbestos maker must pay city $8.3 million”. Retrieved from http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1994-09-13/news/1994256083_1_asbestos-punitive-damages-million-in-punitive
- Aldrich, Rachel. “USG Stock Up on $670 Million ABC Supply Deal, Mulls Resuming Dividend.” The Street. Retrieved from https://www.thestreet.com/story/13688023/1/usg-stock-up-on-670-million-abc-supply-deal-mulls-resuming-dividend.html
- United States Gypsum Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust. Retrieved from http://www.usgasbestostrust.com/resources/documents/