Resources for Patients and their Families

Keene Corporation

The Keene Packaging Company originally produced heat sealed plastic packaging only, until it was purchased by Glenn W. Bailey in 1967. Bailey also bought several other companies and expanded the product line to include fireproofing materials, bearings and other industrial materials. He also took over an insulation manufacturing facility and made it a part of the Keene Corporation.

Unfortunately for Bailey, the insulation business involved the use of a mineral called asbestos. It was a fire resistant part of the insulation that could withstand great heat or cold. It was also a toxic material that made thousands of people seriously ill, and even claimed the lives of unlucky victims. Simply being exposed to the small particles that make up asbestos can lead to diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Bailey was unaware of these dangers when he purchased the plant, but would soon become all too familiar with them.

Even though there are different mesothelioma cell types (including papillary mesothelioma and sarcomatoid mesothelioma) the prognosis is the same. There is no cure for mesothelioma, thus the mesothelioma life expectancy is short and the survival rate low. View mesothelioma resources and our treatment guide for mesothelioma for more information about mesothelioma.

Bailey ended up with thousands of personal injury claims that were submitted by people who had become ill from the insulation made by his company. They started to appear in 1971, and by the following year the Keene Corporation had discontinued the use of asbestos in any of their products. As the claims continued to arrive, a recession also hit the nation, and Keene was hit with very difficult times. Hoping to turn the tide of things around, Bailey created Bairnco to act as a holding company for his other businesses.

Bairnco did quite well, and helped to sort out more than 2,000 asbestos claims, but over 9,000 still remained active. By 1990, Mr. Bailey retired and Luke E. Fichthorn III took his place. Fichthorn was forced to deal with the outstanding lawsuits which consisted of multiple millions of dollars. He first tried spinning off the Keene Corporation's assets, but that only caused accusations of unethical behavior and claims to be brought up against Bairnco. Finally, in 1993, Keene filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and began a company reorganization.

Keene's bankruptcy process lasted until 1996, and resulted in the formation of the Keene Creditors Trust (KCT). This was an amount of money that would be dedicated to paying off the victims of asbestos exposure who filed claims against the Keene Corporation. Representatives from the Claims Processing Facility, Inc. were place in charge of reviewing every claim and ensuring that each one was valid. Those that met the proper requirements would receive a settlement amount, which was decided by the trustees after examining the severity of the case.

Author: Linda Molinari

Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Linda Molinari