Armstrong World Industries

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In 1860, Armstrong World Industries began as a small two-man cork bottle stopper manufacturer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The company expanded to include the production of insulation, flooring and ceiling materials. Armstrong World Industries included asbestos in these products and exposed thousands of employees and consumers. The company has since ceased using asbestos but has faced many lawsuits from asbestos victims. It filed for bankruptcy in 2000 and created an asbestos trust in 2006.

01. History of Asbestos Use

Armstrong World Industries History of Asbestos Use

Quick Facts
  • Years in Operation: 1860 – present
  • Location: Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  • Production: Insulation, flooring, ceiling materials
  • Asbestos Trust: Yes

Armstrong World Industries first opened its doors in 1860, founded by Thoms M. Armstrong and John D. Glass in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. By the 1890s, Armstrong World Industries was the largest producer of cork in the world, and in 1891, the company was incorporated.

Armstrong and Glass then expanded the company to produce insulation, flooring and ceiling materials. Around this time, asbestos was also starting to grow in popularity, and was an easy and inexpensive additive to their new line of products.

The death of Armstrong in 1908 did not prevent the company from further growth. In 1907, the expansion and surging business led the company to build a linoleum factory in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This factory was followed by further expansion into South Gate, CA; Kakakee, Il; and Jackson, MS.

Armstrong World Industries survived the Great Depression and contributed to the war effort during World War II by producing ammunition, wing tips for planes, cork insulation for submarines and camouflage. WWII occurred at the beginning of the asbestos boom and the fibers were used heavily in the war efforts by many different industrial companies.

During this time, Armstrong World Industries continued to expand and acquired other companies, some of whom may also have used asbestos in their products.

Armstrong World Industries’ Acquisitions
  • Brinton Carpets
  • E. & B. Carpet Mills
  • Hart Glass Manufacturing
  • Knapp & Tubbs
  • Lancaster Cork Works
  • Thomasville Furniture Industries
  • Whitall Tatum

The use of asbestos within Armstrong World Industries products ended in 1987, and the company has continued to grow. They have acquired other companies and split into more specialized entities, including the departure of their flooring arm of the organization. In 2016, Armstrong Flooring, Inc. separated from Armstrong World Industries and is now a publicly-traded company.

02. Asbestos Products

Armstrong World Industries Asbestos Products

Armstrong World Industries’ first product, cork stoppers for bottles, was asbestos-free, however the same can’t be said for their expansion into insulation, flooring and ceiling products. The company used asbestos fibers in their products from 1909 until April 1987.

Asbestos-containing products produced by Armstrong World Industries included resilient floor tile, lining felt and backing for sheet vinyl and acoustic cement, among others. Asbestos was added to these building materials to improve resistance to chemicals, fire and heat.

Armstrong World Industries Products Containing Asbestos
List of Products Containing Asbestos

Product Name Start Year End Year
Armstrong 314 Acoustic Cement 1945 1953
Armstrong Armaspray 1966 1968
Armstrong Accobest Gasketing Material 1963 1967
Armstrong Accopac Asbestos Paper 1930 1939
Armstrong Armaspray 16 Spray-on Insulation
Armstrong Armatemp Cement No. 10
Armstrong Asphalt Tile 1961 1972
Armstrong CC Navy Sealer 1931 1972
Armstrong Emulsions
Armstrong Excelon Tile
Armstrong Excelon Vinyl Asbestos Floor Tile 1939 1957
Armstrong Finishes
Armstrong FRJ
Armstrong Heavy Duty FRJ 1954 1980
Armstrong Heavy-Duty FRJ Insulation Jacket
Armstrong Hydrocord Flooring Felt 1939 1957
Armstrong LT – Cork Covering
Armstrong LT – Minus Thirty Cork Covering
Armstrong LT – Thirty Cork Covering
Armstrong LT – Zero Cork Covering
Armstrong LT Sealer
Armstrong Mastics
Armstrong Nonpareil High Pressure Cement
Armstrong Nonpareil High Pressure Covering Block
Armstrong Ring Facing Material
Armstrong Rubber Tile
Armstrong S-89 Adhesive 1939 1957
Armstrong S-90 Adhesive 1939 1957
Armstrong Sealers
Armstrong Sheet Gasketing Material
Armstrong Sprayed Limpet
Armstrong Vinyl Asbestos Tile 1955 1956
CC Navy Sealer 1942 1962
Hydrocord Flooring Felt 1955 1963
LT – Cork Covering 1956 1959
LT Sealer 1939 1957
Nonpareil High Pressure Cement 1909 1932
Nonpareil High Pressure Covering Block 1909 1932
S-89 (Adhesive) 1965 1983
S-90 (Adhesive) 1934 1983

03. Occupational Exposure

Armstrong World Industries and Occupational Exposure

Armstrong World Industries may have begun as a small two-person company, but by 1890 the company employed more than 750 people. The number of employees continued to grow throughout the 1900s and beyond, as the company was one of the earliest adopters of fringe benefits like dental insurance and paid vacation. As of 2016, the company had more than 3,000 employees.

All the employees who worked under Armstrong World Industries between 1909 and April 1987 may have experienced occupational asbestos exposure from the plants in which they were working or from the products themselves.

Occupations Impacted by Armstrong World Industries' Asbestos Use
04. Asbestos Litigation

Asbestos Litigation Against Armstrong World Industries

In the mid-1980s, Armstrong World Industries started to be inundated with personal injury lawsuits and other claims resulting from their previous asbestos use. Initially, the company was paying the claims by insurance they had under the Wellington Agreement. This insurance was later replaced by the Center for Claims Resolution in 1988 until the mid-1990s.

Due to cases brought against them by employees, public school districts, property owners and others, Armstrong World Industries found themselves with almost $200 million in liability and defense costs by 1994. At that time, it was estimated that in the future they would also be liable for almost $250 million in additional legal payouts.

Miller v. Armstrong World Industries
  • A 1991 precedent-setting asbestos case against AWI.
  • Raymond Miller, an insulator, was diagnosed with pleural thickening prior to being diagnosed with asbestosis.
  • On appeal, Miller won his case, which set precedent under Colorado law that statute of limitations for filing a claim in regard to a second asbestos-related disease does not begin upon development of the first disease.

As a result of these expenses, Armstrong World Industries filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December of 2000. At the time of filing, they faced more than 175,000 personal-injury claims from defendants who claimed to have developed asbestos-related diseases as a result of the company’s asbestos use.

Two years after filing for bankruptcy, Armstrong World Industries was recognized as one of the top 100 polluters in the United States for 2002. Following their litany of misfortunes, the company began working to rebrand themselves and underwent a six-year plan to reconfigure the organization.

05. Asbestos Trust Fund

Armstrong World Industries Asbestos Trust Fund

In 2002, Armstrong World Industries announced their plans to create a billion-dollar trust in order to settle their asbestos-related lawsuits. The trust would be started with two-thirds of the company’s shares, which became available through bankruptcy.

The current payment percentage for successful claims is 13.5%.

The asbestos trust fund came to fruition in 2006 through the use of the Armstrong World Industries’ shares, cash and other securities. The trust began accepting claims on May 14, 2007 and was initially funded with $2.06 billion. Within the first two years that the trust was operational, they received more than 200,000 claims. The current base-level value payment percentage of the trust is 13.5%.

Actual payment percentages may be higher according to various factors including, but not limited to, age, exposure, type and firm settlement history. The Armstrong World Industries’ trust continues to accept and pay out claims today. If you believe you or a loved one was exposed, learn how a mesothelioma lawyer can help.