Kentile Floors, also known as the Kentile Floors Factory, was a flooring products manufacturer based out of Brooklyn, NY. For numerous decades, the company used asbestos in a variety of its products, leading to thousands of people developing life-threatening illnesses. Eventually, in part due to large amounts of asbestos-related lawsuits, Kentile Floors closed down, but not before filing for bankruptcy to help cover the mounting expenses of all the asbestos claims.
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Kentile Floors History
Kentile Floors was established in 1898 by founder Arthur Kennedy. The business specialized in a array of flooring and flooring products in various colors and sizes. In the beginning, the company focused on mostly rubber and vinyl floor tiles and flooring products, but by the late 1940s, it began manufacturing asphalt-based floor tiles, which helped boost its popular. Shortly after, the company became an industry leader is asphalt-based floor tiles.
By the 1950s, Kentile Floors’ variety of flooring products (coupled with its reputation for high-quality materials) made the company of the largest flooring manufacturing enterprises in the United States. Large “Kentile Floors” skyscraper signs was created, which went on to become well-known in New York area.
However, the high-quality, resilient products that Kentile Floors provided were loaded with asbestos, especially the asphalt-based and vinyl tiles. In fact, research suggests that as much as 25% asbestos was in used in many of the company’s products.
Eventually, as more and more workers and consumers began developing asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer, the lawsuits against Kentile Floors reached into the thousands.
Kentile Floors Lawsuits and Bankruptcy
By the 1990s, Kentile Floors faced so many asbestos-related lawsuits that it couldn’t keep up with the mounting expenses. In 1992, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Six years later, Kentile Floors came out of bankruptcy, but the lawsuits continued to add up, leading into one of the reasons for the company’s closure in 1998. Although the company attempted to create an asbestos trust fund prior to closing, it was unsuccessful.
Albeit the company official closed its doors, the lawsuits remained ongoing for many years after. Well into the 2000s, Kentile Floors faced numerous asbestos-related cases, including a 2010 case in which a Los Angeles jury awarded $1.6 million to Judith Harrell, a plaintiff who was diagnosed with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure from multiple companies, including Kentile Floors. The jury found Kentile Floors 6% responsible for Harrell’s illness. Other companies found liable included:
- Ford – 10%
- Navistar – 10%
- Exxon Mobil – 18%
- Pittsburgh Corning – 17%
- Safeway Scaffolding – 17%
- Econo Portable Builders – 7%
- Georgia-Pacific Corp. – 6%
- U.S. Gypsum – 6%
- Napa – 1%
- Bendix – 1%
- Pete Green’s Service Station – 1%
Occupations Affected By Kentile Floors
Kentile Floors’ products reached numerous homes and businesses throughout the United States for more than 40 years. Not only were Kentile Floors’ manufacturing workers at risk of asbestos exposure, but also tile installers, construction workers, painters, electricians, plumbers, and more.
Consumers were also at risk of asbestos exposure as many of the company’s products were installed in residential homes.
Additional Information and Resources
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