The Johns Manville Corporation manufactures engineering materials, roofing products, and insulation. It thrives today as an insulation industry leader, but the company’s road to success came with a steep price after asbestos use. Johns Manville’s history of using the deadly set of minerals in products led to some of the largest asbestos-related lawsuits to date.
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Johns Manville History
Johns Manville traces its roots back to the late 1800s when 24-year-old Henry Ward Johns created the H. W. Johns Manufacturing Company. Shortly after, the company merged with C.B. Manville’s Manville Covering Company.
With the merger of the companies, the H. W. Johns-Manville Company was created in 1901, and in 1926, the name officially changed to the Johns-Manville Corporation.
In 1927, the company went public and focused on manufacturing fire-resistant roofing and insulation materials.
During the late 1930s, the company began manufacturing and distributing products to help with World War II, including asbestos-containing insulation for Navy ships.
It also continued to make a plethora of asbestos-containing products throughout the next numerous years, including PVC pipes, fiberglass, and more.
By 1974, Johns Manville became one of the leading fiberglass manufacturers in the U.S.
By the 1980s, Johns Manville faced thousands of asbestos-related claims and lawsuits as employees, contractors, and consumers began developing life-threatening diseases.
Yet, the first record of an asbestos-related case against the company started much earlier, when employees filed a lawsuit against Johns Manville in the 1920s.
Johns Manville Lawsuit and Bankruptcy
In 1929, 11 employees filed a negligence lawsuit against Johns Manville. According to court documents, the plaintiffs filed the suit after claiming Johns Manville failed to provide adequate safety to employees during work, including the failure to ventilate facilities and failure to provide proper safety masks.
The case was eventually settled a few years later for $30,000, but it marked the beginning of an onslaught of lawsuits to come.
In 1935, Johns Manville faced another asbestos-related lawsuit in which 20 former employees were involved. Court documents state that the employees, who worked at the Waukegan, Illinois plant, were exposed to harmful working conditions.
The lawsuit was thrown out under Illinois law, that at the time, stated employees didn’t have the right to file such claims for workers’ compensation.
However, since state laws varied greatly, many other cases of the same nature were successful.
Throughout the next several decades, asbestos-related lawsuits continue to pile up against Johns Manville. By 1982, the company, still facing around 17,000 cases, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The Johns Manville Bankruptcy Trust
When Johns Manville filed for bankruptcy protection, it was one of the largest insulation providers in the world, accounting for over half of all asbestos-containing insulation across the globe.
The company also had the largest amounts of asbestos-related claims against it and was one of the first businesses to file bankruptcy due to asbestos lawsuits. This set the model for future defendants of asbestos claims to follow.
Because of the Johns Manville Bankruptcy Trust, Congress enacted section 524(g) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, which created a law that allows companies with large amounts of asbestos-related claims to establish trust funds to help pay all pending and future cases.
After the enactment of 524(g), hundreds of companies facing exorbitant amounts of asbestos-related claims filed for bankruptcy and established trust funds.
After Johns Manville emerged from bankruptcy, it set up its trust fund in 1998. According to the official “Manville Trust” website, the trust fund is designated for all pending asbestos-related claims against the company.
A total of $2.5 billion was placed into the trust fund when it opened, but by 2012 and mounting claims, the trust had already paid out over $4 billion, well-over the amount originally placed in the trust.
Occupations Affected by Johns Manville
Unfortunately, consumers and workers all across the world were affected by Johns Manville asbestos-containing products.
Consumers who bought home insulation were affected, whereas numerous workers from various different occupations were placed at risk almost daily. Some of these occupations include:
- Shipyard workers
- Military veterans
- Construction workers
- Manufacturing plant workers
- Auto mechanics, and more
John Mansville Asbestos-Containing Products
Johns Manville manufactured distributed many products that contained asbestos. These products, as mentioned earlier (particularly the company’s insulation) was mostly distributed worldwide, affecting people across the globe.
- Cement board
- Asbestos paper
- Pipe insulation
- Floor tiles
Johns Manville’s asbestos-containing products were of different brand names. Some of the brand names include:
- 7M-13 Raw Asbestos Fibers
- Asbestoguard Adhesives
- Asbestotle Flashing
- Corrugated Asbestos Transite Sheets
- Fibrocel Insulation
- Glasal flex board
- Insulkote Weatherproofing
- J-M Asbestos Flexboard
- J-M Asbestos Wall Board
- J-M Building Papers and Felts
- 7M-13 Raw Asbestos Fibers
- J-M Encased Insulating Board
- J-M Insulating Cement
- J-M MariniteFireproof Sheet
- Johns-Manville Colorbestos Shingles
- Johns-Manville Rigid Asbestos Shingles
- Permastone Asbestos-Cement Flexboard
- Stonehedge Architectural Panels
- Terraflex Plastic Asbestos Floor Tile
- Thermobestos Block Insulation
- Thermobestos Cement
- Transitop Asbestos Panels
- Vitribestos Sheet
- Vulcabestos Insulation
- J-M Transite
- Johns Manville Caulking Putty
- Colorbestos Siding Sheets
- J-M Builtup Roofs
- Salem Asbestos Roof Shingles
Additional Resources and Information
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Page Reviewed and Edited by Mesothelioma Attorney Paul Danziger
Paul Danziger grew up in Houston, Texas and earned a law degree from Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. For over 25 years years he has focused on representing mesothelioma cancer victims and others hurt by asbestos exposure. Paul and his law firm have represented thousands of people diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer, recovering significant compensation for injured clients. Every client is extremely important to Paul and he will take every call from clients who want to speak with him. Paul and his law firm handle mesothelioma cases throughout the United States.