Expert Fact Checked

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Congoleum, a Scottish company, expanded into the United States in the late 1800s. For decades, the flooring manufacturer’s asbestos use exposed people to the mineral. Asbestos litigation payouts led the company to file for bankruptcy. Victims may still file Congoleum asbestos trust fund claims.

01. History of Asbestos Use

Congoleum History of Asbestos Use

In the mid-1800s, Michael Nairn started a company that manufactured heavy sailcloth at a factory in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. Other companies bought the sailcloth and used it as flooring, called floorcloth. This floorcloth is the basis for linoleum, which was once commonly made with asbestos.

Quick Facts
  • Years in Operation: 1886 – Present
  • Location: Mercerville, New Jersey
  • Production: Flooring
  • Asbestos Trust: Yes

Nairn’s business soon began producing linoleum and became known as Nairn Linoleum Manufacturing Company. Over the years, the company expanded, adding other locations in Europe. By 1877, the company was the largest linoleum manufacturer in the world. In 1885, the company established a location in Kearny, New Jersey.

Around this time, a new company called Congoleum was created. It produced unique types of roofing and flooring. After a series of other acquisitions, Congoleum bought Nairn Linoleum. The company became Congoleum Nairn. In 1968, Bath Industries purchased Congoleum Nairn. The new company became Congoleum Industries.

Before the 1980s, many flooring manufacturers used asbestos. Congoleum used it in products made between 1947 and 1984. The mineral’s durability, moldability and heat resistance made it popular. The asbestos in flooring and other products can become dangerous when the materials are worn or broken. Many people faced exposure risks from Congoleum’s asbestos flooring.

02. Asbestos Products

Congoleum Asbestos Products

Congoleum has produced flooring materials throughout its history. The company has been a leader in producing flooring coverings for decades. Yet some of those products used asbestos as an additive.

The company started using asbestos in 1947 and phased it out by 1984. Its known asbestos products include asphalt tile, vinyl asbestos tile and sheet flooring with asbestos felt.

Congoleum’s products became quite popular. Builders often used them in homes, schools and other buildings. Workers installing the asbestos flooring may have experienced asbestos exposure. As asbestos products age, they may become worn or damaged. This can also expose people to airborne asbestos. Asbestos exposure from Congoleum’s products has led to cancers like mesothelioma for some people.

Congoleum Products Containing Asbestos

List of Products Containing Asbestos

Product Name Start Year End Year
Commercial Vinyl Asbestos Sheet Flooring 1974 1977
Congoleum Asbestos Sheet Flooring 1974 1977
Congoleum Vinyl Asbestos Tile 1969 1972
Cushioned Inlaid Vinyl Sheet Flooring with Asbestos Felt 1970 1973
Cushioned Vinyl Asbestos Sheet Flooring 1974 1980
Cushionflor 1978 1983
Cushionflor Supreme Asbestos Sheet Flooring 1970 1980
Fashionflor Cushioned Inlaid Vinyl Sheet Flooring with Asbestos Felt 1970 1973
Flor-Ever Vinyl Sheet Flooring 1959 1960
Flor-Ever Vinyl Tile 1959 1959
Gold Seal Asphalt Tile 1952 1958
Gold Seal Nairon Custom Tile 1956 1958
Gold Seal Nairon Standard Sheet Flooring 1955 1958
Gold Seal Nairon Standard Tile 1956 1958
Gold Seal Vinyl Inlaids Sheet Flooring 1952 1958
Gold Seal Vinyl Tile 1952 1955
Gold Seal Vinylbest Tile 1954 1958
Inlaid Cushion Vinyl Sheet Flooring with Asbestos Felt 1978 1980
Inlaid Vinyl Sheet Flooring with Asbestos Felt 1965 1973
Luxury Cushioned Vinyl Sheet Flooring with Asbestos Felt 1965 1969
Nairn Asphalt Tile 1947 1951
Nairn Custom Vinyl Tile 1959 1962
Nairn Vinyl Asbestos Tile 1963 1968
Pacemaker Cushioned Vinyl Sheet Flooring 1970 1980
Peerless Cushioned Vinyl Sheet Flooring 1970 1977
Spring Luxury Cushioned Vinyl Sheet Flooring 1970 1980
Ultraflor Sheet Flooring 1978 1983
Vinyl Cushionflor Sheet Flooring 1970 1980
Vinylbest Vinyl Asbestos Tile 1959 1975

03. Occupational Exposure

Congoleum and Occupational Exposure

For years, some flooring produced by Congoleum contained asbestos. Many workers may have experienced occupational asbestos exposure from these products through activities like:

  • Constructing or renovating buildings with these products
  • Manufacturing or producing these products
  • Working in Congoleum’s asbestos-contaminated facility

Congoleum asbestos flooring exposed many workers to asbestos. Anyone in the area while this flooring was installed or repaired may also have been exposed. People living in homes with Congoleum flooring may face these risks, too. Asbestos exposure may occur if homeowners perform repairs, renovations or otherwise disturb Congoleum flooring.

Occupations Impacted by Congoleum's Asbestos Use

04. Asbestos Litigation

Asbestos Litigation Against Congoleum

Congoleum’s asbestos use has led to numerous mesothelioma lawsuits and settlements. The popularity of Congoleum’s products may have led to asbestos exposure for many people.

One lawsuit against Congoleum in 1996 came from a flooring contractor. The plaintiff worked with asbestos flooring made by several companies, including Congoleum, Armstrong International Inc. and others. The resulting exposure to asbestos led to the plaintiff’s pericardial mesothelioma. The jury found the flooring manufacturers were at fault and awarded the plaintiff $3.3 million.

The high number of asbestos lawsuits and mesothelioma claims led the company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This type of bankruptcy required the company to reorganize and create an asbestos trust fund.

05. Asbestos Trust Fund

Congoleum Asbestos Trust Fund

Congoleum filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2003. With the bankruptcy, Congoleum set up an asbestos trust fund. An asbestos trust fund holds money to compensate current and future victims harmed by the company’s products.

The current payment percentage for successful claims is 8.42%.

Congoleum initially funded the Congoleum Plan Trust with $270 million. The trust started taking asbestos claims in 2010, and as of 2023, it has more than $159 million remaining.

In 2023, the asbestos trust fund lowered its payment percentage from 12.5% to 8.42%. The payment percentage determines how much compensation claimants can get. It also helps the trust manage its funds to cover future claims. Actual payout awards may be higher based on a victim’s specific case. Factors including, but not limited to, age, exposure type and firm settlement history may all be taken into account.

A mesothelioma lawyer can help victims file Congoleum asbestos trust fund claims.