Asbestos and Automobile Brakes
Continued from: Asbestos Exposure
Bendix Asbestos Brakes
Founded by Vincent Bendix in 1924, Bendix (now a subsidiary of Honeywell Consumer Products Group) is one of the leading and most recognizable brands in the development and manufacture of brake pads. In 1971, Bendix was the first automotive company to introduce anti-lock brakes (ABS), equipping the Chrysler Imperial with the first four-wheel ABS system.
Like most other brake pad manufacturers, Bendix commonly used asbestos as a friction material. Since a 2003 ruling prohibiting asbestos use in friction materials, Bendix has complied by working to produce new and innovative non-asbestos friction materials. Unfortunately for Bendix and parent company Honeywell, this recent action does little to limit the company's liability for any injuries resulting from exposure to asbestos friction materials used in any of its automotive parts.
In 2002, a New York jury found Ford, Chrysler, GM and Honeywell liable for the asbestos-related death of one man, awarding his family a $53 million asbestos settlement. Although Honeywell spokesmen claimed the ruling to be an anomaly, it does not refute the fact that Bendix asbestos brakes and related products manufactured prior to the regulation of 2003 pose a risk of asbestos exposure. Considering that most asbestos diseases are somewhat latent in their development of symptoms, recent litigation aimed at Bendix and Honeywell could be the tip of the iceberg in terms of asbestos lawsuits related to asbestos brake linings. Those who have been injured as a result of exposure to Bendix asbestos brakes might be entitled to compensation.
Honeywell has recently garnered a great deal of media attention in regards to the company's bid to sell the Bendix brake products unit to Federal-Mogul Corp., a bankrupt auto-parts company that is protected against excess malignant mesothelioma-related litigation because of its Chapter 11 status (resulting from the company's own asbestos liabilities). There are currently upwards of 47,000 Bendix asbestos lawsuit claims pending against Honeywell. A number of the country's largest automakers who face asbestos liabilities of their own are seeking to file suit to prevent the Bendix sale, labeling it a "fraudulent transfer." Meanwhile, consumers who have been injured as a result of the asbestos brake materials are forced to sit back and wait for restitution.
Raymark Corporation and Asbestos
Raymark Industries were at one time a major parts manufacturer in the automotive industry. For 70 years, Raymark operated from their 33-acre site located in Bountiful, Utah, where they manufactured disk brakes, drum brakes, brake pads, brake linings and adhesives.
Like most other automotive part manufacturers, Raymark utilized asbestos in its friction materials. While the asbestos-laden automotive parts put all those using them at risk of being exposed to hazardous asbestos fibers, Raymark earned particular notoriety due to their illegal dumping of hazardous waste behind their Utah base of operations.
Although Raymark no longer existed as an automotive parts manufacturer, in the late-1990s the company was at the center of litigation surrounding a variety of pollution claims. The Attorney General, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice, filed a $20 million lawsuit against Raymark in 1997. The lawsuit revolved around claims that Raymark dumped hazardous materials into man-made "lagoons" located behind the facility. The hazardous waste reportedly contained materials that included asbestos and phenol-formaldehyde resins, resulting in 70 years of occupational exposure to the toxins. The state and federal lawsuits specifically target the costs associated with cleaning up the Raymark site and removing all toxins from the surrounding land.
Raymark is also accused of making the contaminated sludge available to the general public as a fill material, leading to further asbestos litigation. Those people injured as a result of exposure to the hazardous asbestos waste materials might be eligible to receive compensation by filing a personal asbestos lawsuit.