Maremont Corporation History of Asbestos Use
- Years in Operation: 1877 – 2019
- Location: Troy, Michigan
- Production: Automotive parts
- Asbestos Trust: Yes
Maremont Corporation was founded in 1877 as a manufacturer and distributor of parts for wagons, stagecoaches and streetcars. The company was headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.
As Maremont grew and technology advanced, the company moved into the automotive market, making products for the country’s first mass-produced vehicles.
Maremont continued to expand throughout the mid-20th century, expanding internationally to South America and Europe. During this time, the company began manufacturing aftermarket automotive products, which were replacement parts not originally included in vehicles.
Maremont’s use of asbestos began in 1953, when the company acquired the manufacturing business of “Grizzly Brakes.” With this purchase, Maremont began manufacturing and distributing aftermarket friction products.
These products included asbestos-containing brake linings, disc pads and clutch facings sold under the trademarked names “Grizzly” and “Leland.” Maremont also supplied asbestos brakes to Sears, Roebuck & Company, which were sold under the “Sears” brand name.
In 1954, Maremont also started manufacturing aftermarket mufflers that contained asbestos-wrapped sealing components. These products were sold under the trademarked names “Maremont” and “Pratt.”
Maremont’s manufacturing and distribution of asbestos-containing car parts caused asbestos exposure among thousands of individuals who handled its products.
In 1977, Marmont divested its asbestos friction business to Nuturn Corporation, another automotive parts manufacturer, and discontinued asbestos mufflers in 1978. The sale marked the end of the company’s use of asbestos.
Documents state that after 1978, Maremont no longer manufactured or sold asbestos products. However, after the sale, Maremont retained 20% ownership in Nuturn Corporation until 1980.
Arvin Industries, Inc. acquired Maremont in 1986. Arvin Industries, Inc. was then sold to Meritor, Inc. in 2000. Until 2019, Maremont was a non-operating subsidiary of Meritor, meaning Meritor owned and operated 100% of its interests.
Maremont has faced thousands of asbestos lawsuits stemming from its 25 years of asbestos use. Many individuals who came into contact with Maremont’s products later developed asbestos-related diseases.
The growing number of asbestos claims led the company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2019. A $28 million asbestos trust has since been created to compensate current and future victims of asbestos exposure.
Maremont Corporation Asbestos Products
Prior to the 1980s, asbestos was commonly added to automotive parts to increase durability and heat-resistance. Automotive parts are often subject to high levels of heat and friction, making asbestos a valuable and inexpensive additive.
Maremont used asbestos in its friction and exhaust products from 1953 until 1978. The company’s asbestos products were largely replacement parts sold in the auto repair industry. Maremont distributed and sold its products under several trade names, such as Grizzly, Pratt, Maremont and Leland. These asbestos products included:
- Grizzly Brake Linings
- Grizzly Clutch Facings
- Maremont Brake Linings
- Maremont Clutch Facings
Maremont Corporation and Occupational Exposure
As a result of the frequent use of asbestos in automotive parts, professionals who worked in the automotive industry were at risk of asbestos exposure. Maremont employees who manufactured and installed the company’s asbestos products between 1953 and 1978 were among the most at risk.
Maremont’s history of manufacturing asbestos-containing replacement parts also put car mechanics and automotive parts store employees at risk. For instance, mechanics who handled brakes and mufflers made by Maremont may have inhaled airborne asbestos fibers during the installation process.
Grenier v. General Motors
- Roland Grenier worked as an auto mechanic for 38 years.
- During that time, he installed friction products manufactured by several companies, including Maremont.
- Grenier developed pleural mesothelioma from working with asbestos-containing products.
- General Motors was found most responsible with 70% liability.
- Ford Motor Company was 16% liable.
- Maremont and seven other defendants were found 2% liable.
- Grenier was awarded $2 million in total damages.
From 1997 to 2002, Maremont paid approximately $52 million to asbestos exposure victims. As of December 2018, the company faced more than 1,900 open asbestos claims. Because of the ongoing litigation costs, Maremont filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
After filing for bankruptcy, Maremont established an asbestos trust fund to pay victims of exposure. Maremont is still named in lawsuits today and pays out claimants from its trust fund.
Maremont Corporation Asbestos Trust Fund
Since the 1980s, Maremont has paid out millions of dollars in asbestos lawsuits and continues to be named in claims today. In 2019, Maremont filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a result of the rising cost of its asbestos litigation.
The current payment percentage for successful claims is 29.1%.
Meritor, Maremont’s parent company, filed for bankruptcy after its asbestos claimants voted in favor of a reorganization plan. The plan was developed to resolve current and future asbestos claims by establishing a $28 million asbestos trust fund.
The reorganization transferred all of Maremont’s assets to the trust fund, making the company no longer operable under Meritor. The Maremont trust fund continues to compensate victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.