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Asbestos Exposure at Congoleum Corporation

By Michael Bartlett

Posted on December 11th, 2017

The asbestos-containing flooring products manufactured by Congoleum Corporation were commonly used in the construction industry for projects involving residential and commercial buildings as well.

Congoleum Corporation is a manufacturer of asbestos floor tiles based in Mercerville, New Jersey. While the company is still operational today, it faced a massive influx of lawsuits several decades ago due to asbestos products, a situation which ultimately led to filing for bankruptcy to compensate all the injured employees.

Company History

Although it has been an American corporation for most of its history, the origins of Congoleum Corporation date back to the middle of the 19th century in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, when its founder, Michael Nairn, began selling sailcloth and painted floor cloths. These products became much appreciated because they were inexpensive and also useful to the working class, who could not afford wood flooring.

Seeking to expand the business, the Nairn family immigrated to the United States and soon, they started producing and selling what was then a new invention: linoleum. The beginning of modern Congoleum Corporation was in 1886, when Nairn's son bought land in New Jersey, hired Scottish workers, and began producing and merchandising flooring in the United States as Nairn Linoleum Co.

The company was successful and in the early 1900s, it merged with a supplier from Pennsylvania who manufactured Congoleum - a simulated wood grain product - and formed Congoleum-Nairn. During the 1950s, the company thrived by introducing vinyl flooring on the market and in the 1960s, it changed its name to the current one.

The corporation joined Amtico Floors in 1993 and bought a new building in order to manufacture and distribute products throughout the United States and Canada. Congoleum Corporation is currently operating as a subsidiary of American Biltrite, Inc and has three facilities - in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland- and is a leading manufacturer of tile flooring goods, serving all markets. In 2004, Congoleum after partnering with 3M Corporation began producing a new type of resilient flooring with Scotchgard Protector.

Congoleum Asbestos-Containing Products

Between 1947 and 1983, Congoleum Corporation made a wide range of flooring products including six-foot sheet flooring, countertops, and asphalt tiles, using asbestos for its fire and heat resistance. Below is a list of products which contained asbestos manufactured by Congoleum Corporation.

Asphalt Tile

  • Gold Seal Asphalt Tile
  • Sequin
  • Nairn Asphalt Tile

Countertop

  • Gold Seal Nairon Standard
  • Solid Seal Vinyl Inlaids
  • Flor-Ever Vinyl Top

Vinyl Asbestos Tile

  • Vinylbest
  • Nairn Custom Tiffany Vinyl Tile
  • Vinyl Asbestos Tile

Sheet Flooring

  • Gold Seal Vinyl Nairon Standard
  • Flor-Ever Deluxe Vinyl
  • Cushionflor Supreme
  • Pacemaker Cushioned Vinyl
  • Dynasty
  • New Dimension Cushioned Vinyl
  • Ultraflor
  • Fashionflor
  • Peerless Cushioned Vinyl

The asbestos-containing flooring products manufactured by Congoleum were commonly used in the construction industry for projects involving both residential and commercial buildings.

Although the products containing asbestos were labeled accordingly, those who handled asbestos directly, such as installers or demolition workers were not informed about the asbestos dangers and hence were unaware of their exposure to dangerous asbestos fibers and are now at risk for developing asbestos-related illnesses. Even one residential or commercial flooring installation that involved sanding or just cutting through the Congoleum flooring products is enough to cause an asbestos-related disease. Additionally, the health of those who worked in other industries within close proximity of asbestos is also at stake, as well as that of their family members who were exposed to their dusty clothing. Flooring installer is the main occupation which involves asbestos exposure at Congoleum Corporation, but construction workers come second. When it was discovered that the inhalation of asbestos particles can lead to dangerous, deadly diseases, such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, or lung cancer, many companies - including Congoleum Corporation - put the mineral out of use.

Lawsuits, Bankruptcy, and the Asbestos Trust Fund

After a massive amount of asbestos-related lawsuits against the company, Congoleum Corporation tried to file for bankruptcy protection in 1993, but its reorganization plan was not approved until 2010. The plaintiffs admitted that they had been aware of the asbestos danger, as the products had been labeled properly. Still, the majority of employees, installers, and customers never received any warning in this respect.

When the federal bankruptcy court confirmed Congoleum's reorganization plan, the company set aside $270 million and approximately 50% of its stock to establish a trust fund. The asbestos trust fund was meant to pay the medical bills of injured workers, as well as death benefits to the families of deceased claimants.

If you or your loved one were also injured by asbestos exposure at Congoleum Corporation, keep in mind that there is a good chance you qualify for substantial compensation. Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. will provide quality legal assistance by helping you file a claim with the asbestos trust fund set up by Congoleum Corporation. For more information, do not hesitate to contact us. Our skillful attorneys will gladly evaluate your case.

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