Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company, better known as simply Lockheed Shipbuilding, was a shipyard based out of Seattle, along the Duwamish River. The shipyard played an important role in constructing and repairing vessels for numerous years, but not without placing a multitude of workers at risk for asbestos-related illnesses. Similar to most other shipyards in the past, Lockheed’s reliance on asbestos resulted in ill workers and numerous asbestos-related lawsuits.
If you or a loved one suffer from mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may qualify for substantial compensation. Currently, there is over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, awaiting those who’ve been diagnosed with an asbestos illness. Fill out our form to receive our free Financial Compensation Packet. Our packet is loaded with information on leading mesothelioma attorneys in your area, how to file a claim for asbestos trust funds, how to get paid in 90 days, and more.
Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company History
Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company was established as a shipbuilding company during the 1930s, on the west side of Seattle’s Harbor Island. Prior to becoming a shipyard, the company, then known as Puget Sound Bridge and Dredging Company, was a construction company that built Harbor Island and a number of vessels during World War I and World War II.
The shipyard, spread out over 18 acres, had three dry docks, five piers, and a shipway. Lockheed was just one of several companies that built and repaired vessels at the shipyard during the wars.
The company continued to build vessels during the 1960s, including the USS Rathburne, USS Stein, USS Reasoner, USS Shreveport, and more. However, by that time, the shipyard was already highly contaminated with asbestos. Although the owners and and executives of the shipyard knew the dangers of asbestos, they never told the workers nor provided any safety gear, which eventually led to mesothelioma lawsuits.
The Lockheed company began facing asbestos-related claims during the 1990s after a worker died from an asbestos-related disease. Although the case was reversed after documents indicated that the employee also worked at Todd Shipyards, several other lawsuits followed, including a father and son lawsuit in which the plaintiffs stated that there were was so much asbestos at Lockheed that workers could make snowballs with the toxic material.
One of the major mesothelioma lawsuits against Lockheed and a victory for the plaintiffs occurred on August 31, 2010, when the Court of Appeals of Washington determined that the company was responsible for ensuring that its workers were safe from the dangers of asbestos. This not only went for Lockheed employees, but also contractors who worked at the shipyard. One such worker was Reuben Arnold, a subcontractor who worked at the shipyard as an insulator during the early 1960s.
Not only was Reuben diagnosed with mesothelioma, but his son, Daniel, also developed the toxic disease after second-hand exposure from his father’s work clothes. Both father and son died within 15 months apart from each other.
Under Washington state law, companies who hire contractors and subcontractors are ultimately responsible for worker safety. Although Lockheed claimed it did not work as a general contractor, the court rejected their claim after evidence confirmed that the company directed the manner in which Arnold performed his work. Per Washington law,
“An employer of an independent contractor is generally not liable for injuries to the independent contractor’s employees. Kelley v. Howard S. Wright Constr. Co., 90 Wn.2d 323, 330, 582 P.2d 500 (1978). An exception exists where the employer retains control over some part of the contractor’s work. Kelley, 90 Wn.2d at 330. An employer retains control if the employer retains “the right to direct the manner in which the work is performed.”
Lockheed Shipbuilding Superfund Site
In addition to an exorbitant amount of asbestos, Lockheed Shipbuilding contained numerous other toxins, such as chemical contaminants, arsenic, lead, zinc, and mercury. The landfills around the shipyard were at extremely unsafe levels, causing concern for people who lived around the area.
Lockheed had two major shipyard areas: Shipyard 1 and Shipyard No. 2 (Yard II). Yard II is where the majority of shipbuilding and repair work took place. In 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated Shipyard 2 as a Superfund site. By 2010, the name of the site was changed to the Lockheed West Seattle Superfund Site. Cleanup began shortly after.
Sandblasting operations close to Yard II’s dry docks and shipway caused a lot of the contamination. According to the Lockheed Martin Corporation, contaminants associated with the large amount of sandblasting activities left excessive amounts of contaminants around the surrounding areas of the dry docks and shipway.
Additional Help and Resources
If you’ve been injured by mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, keep in mind that there is a good chance that you’ll qualify for considerable compensation. Remember to fill out our from to get your free Financial Compensation Packet, with information on asbestos and mesothelioma lawyers. If you have questions or need additional assistance, contact us at 800-793-4540.