01. History of Asbestos Use
J.T. Thorpe, Inc. History of Asbestos Use
- Years in Operation: 1922 – 1991
- Location: Monterey Park, California
- Production: Refractory products
- Asbestos Trust: Yes
J.T. Thorpe, Inc. began operations in 1922 in Los Angeles, California. The company was established by individuals connected to J.T. Thorpe and Son, Inc., another California-based company. However, the two companies operated separately.
J.T. Thorpe, Inc. was a refractory contractor that operated mostly within southern California. Refractories are heat- and pressure-resistant materials used in high-heat machinery, such as furnaces and boilers.
Due to its natural properties, asbestos was a common ingredient in refractory products. Records show the company installed and distributed asbestos refractory materials beginning in the mid-1920s. As a contractor, the company serviced many industries, including power plants and metal forges.
J.T. Thorpe, Inc. moved its operations to Monterey Park, California in 1932. In the late 1930s, the company expanded its services to shipyards. J.T. Thorpe, Inc. installed asbestos-containing refractory products at shipyards and on U.S. Navy ships during World War II.
J.T. Thorpe, Inc. provided refractory services on various ships, including oilers, railcar carriers and containerships. Individuals may have been exposed to asbestos from installation until these materials were removed.
Although JT Thorpe stopped using asbestos materials on ships in the 1980s, some records indicate the company continued to distribute asbestos materials in other industries for several more years.
The company continued to successfully operate as a refractory contractor for shipyards and other industries. However, around the time asbestos use ceased on ships in the mid-1980s, J.T. Thorpe, Inc. began to experience difficulties.
In November 1986, the company established Thorpe Holding Company to house J.T. Thorpe, Inc. and a new company, Thorpe Constructors. On December 30, 1986, J.T. Thorpe, Inc. dissolved. The company had experienced rising litigation costs as a result of its decades of asbestos use.
The newly created Thorpe Constructors then assumed the debts and name of the dissolved J.T. Thorpe, Inc. on December 31, 1986. The company formerly called Thorpe Constructors then operated as J.T. Thorpe, Inc.
Despite this change in operations, J.T. Thorpe, Inc. ceased product distribution in 1991. The similarly named JT Thorpe and Son, Inc. then hired several of J.T. Thorpe, Inc.’s former employees and purchased its equipment.
In 2002, J.T. Thorpe, Inc. filed for bankruptcy due to rising litigation costs from its use of asbestos in refractory materials. The J.T. Thorpe Settlement Trust was created in 2006 to satisfy new and existing asbestos exposure claims.
Although J.T. Thorpe, Inc. no longer operates, the trust continues to accept and pay claims.
02. Asbestos Products
J.T. Thorpe, Inc. Asbestos Products
J.T. Thorpe, Inc. distributed and installed refractory materials to businesses around California. These refractory materials contained asbestos for added heat and pressure resistance. During refractory installation, asbestos fibers could become airborne and inhaled by workers in the area.
J.T. Thorpe, Inc. supplied and installed asbestos-containing products, including:
- Refractory products
03. Occupational Exposure
J.T. Thorpe, Inc. and Occupational Exposure
J.T. Thorpe, Inc. worked as a refractory contractor in a number of industries. J.T. Thorpe, Inc. provided refractory services to many jobsites, including aluminum plants, petroleum companies and chemical refineries.
The company’s operations exposed thousands of workers to asbestos. Records show J.T. Thorpe, Inc. exposed workers to asbestos in varying degrees of severity. Though there is no safe level of exposure, prolonged contact with the mineral further increases the likelihood of developing an asbestos-related disease.
Among the sites with high levels of exposure are well-known companies, such as Procter & Gamble, Bethlehem Steel Shipyard and Shell Oil.
04. Asbestos Litigation
Asbestos Litigation Against J.T. Thorpe, Inc.
J.T. Thorpe, Inc. exposed thousands of individuals to asbestos, including its own employees. Many of these individuals developed asbestos-related illnesses, and may be entitled to compensation through legal claims or workers’ compensation filings.
In one such case, William Butler worked as an asbestos mixer-operator in 1945 and 1946 for J.T. Thorpe, Inc. In 1978, Butler was diagnosed with asbestosis. Butler pursued a workers’ compensation case against J.T. Thorpe, Inc. for disability and reimbursement for his medical expenses.
The Workers’ Compensation Board awarded Butler his requested amount. However, J.T. Thorpe, Inc. contested the award. An appeals court confirmed the board’s decision and Butler received his original award.
As a result of claims like Butler’s, J.T. Thorpe, Inc. began to experience financial difficulties related to asbestos litigation in the 1990s. Rising costs led to the company ceasing operations in 1991 and eventually filing for bankruptcy.
05. Asbestos Trust Fund
J.T. Thorpe, Inc. Asbestos Trust Fund
J.T. Thorpe, Inc. filed for bankruptcy in February 2002. As a result of bankruptcy proceedings, the J.T. Thorpe Settlement Trust was created in June 2006 with initial funding of $154 million. The J.T. Thorpe Settlement Trust handles asbestos-related claims against J.T. Thorpe, Inc., Thorpe Technologies, Inc. and Thorpe Holding Company, Inc.
This trust is not associated with the J.T. Thorpe Company Successor Trust or the Thorpe Insulation Company Asbestos Settlement Trust. Both are separate trusts formed from the bankruptcy proceedings of corporations independent of J.T. Thorpe, Inc.
Individuals who were exposed to asbestos by J.T. Thorpe, Inc. and later developed an asbestos disease may file claims directly to the trust. Successful claimants may receive compensation from the trust. The payment percentage is currently set at 50% to ensure fund availability for future claimants. However, actual payment amounts may depend on numerous factors, including age, disease severity, exposure history and firm settlement history.