Quigley Co., a subsidiary of the New York-based pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, is a former manufacturer of insulations and other products for the steel industry and foundries. The company was founded as a small refractory in 1916 by Wirt Quigley, who developed, manufactured and marketed products for use in the iron, steel, glass and other industries throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. Quigley’s primary business was a line of specialty refractory materials, such as Roofchrome, slurry created for use in open hearth furnaces.
Quigley Co. was purchased by Chas. Pfizer & Co., Inc. – now known simply as Pfizer – in 1968 as part of the pharmaceutical company’s efforts to diversify through its now-defunct minerals and metals division. In 1991, Pfizer decided to concentrate solely on its health care operations, so Quigley left the refractory business, selling those assets, though Pfizer kept ownership the company.
Products Manufactured by Quigley Company that Contained Asbestos
From around the time of World War II until the early 1970s, Quigley Co. manufactured several products containing asbestos. One of these products was its Insulag cement line, powdered insulation products used to protect furnaces, pipes, boilers and hearths. Workers mixed these products to create a wet substance, which they then applied in coats to protect and seal the high-temperature equipment.
Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, was added to these products because it is resistant to heat and fire. The mineral had been added to numerous products since the late 1800s, not just in refractory products, but also in roofing supplies, adhesives, machinery parts, aprons, cigarettes and more.
Of course, we now know that asbestos can cause serious health problems. When asbestos fibers are released into the air – something that happens frequently when asbestos products are being manufactured, applied, or when they age and grow brittle – they can become stuck in a person’s lung tissue and can make breathing difficult. Years later, that exposure can cause serious lung diseases like asbestosis, a chronic, progressive inflammation of the lungs, or mesothelioma, a rare and very serious type of lung cancer for which asbestos is the only known cause.
Some people say companies that used asbestos didn’t do enough to protect their workers’ health. Among the evidence presented in trial against Quigley are documents alleging that the company knew as early as 1959 that exposure to asbestos could cause disease, but the company failed to put a warning on the product. Quigley continued to use asbestos until as late as 1977, when federal regulators banned nearly all uses of the mineral in the United States.
Below is a list of Quigley products that contained asbestos.
|Quigley Insulag Refractory Cement||1935-1974|
|Quigley Insulag Fireproofing Cement||1963-1977|
|Insulbox Precast Insulag||1935 – ?|
|Insuline Refractory Cement||1940-1970|
|Panelag Refractory Cement||1945-1974|
|Panelbond Refractory Cement||1959-1974|
Occupations at Risk for Asbestos Exposure
Most of Quigley’s asbestos-containing products were created for use in the steel industry and foundries – places that required a product to protect their machinery from extremely high heat. Therefore, individuals who worked in these industries – including furnace/smelter workers, inspectors and other laborers – from the 1940s to the 1970s, the decades in which Quigley used asbestos, are at the greatest risk.
Individuals who worked in Quigley Co. facilities are also at risk of exposure to asbestos fibers. Many of Quigley’s asbestos products were sold in powdered form and had to be mixed prior to application. The insulation products in their powdered form were the most likely to shed hazardous asbestos particles, so the workers charged with preparing the product – both in Quigley manufacturing plants and at companies that purchased the products – may have breathed the hazardous fibers.
It’s also possible that workers’ family members could also have been impacted by secondhand exposure to asbestos. As anyone who worked with asbestos may recall, that the mineral’s dust clings easily to clothing, so hazardous fibers brought home at the end of a work day could put the whole family at risk.
As a result of a very high number of asbestos-related lawsuits against the company, Quigley filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2004. For the past seven years, its parent company, Pfizer, has been negotiating with asbestos claimants to develop a settlement agreement.
The process has been drawn out for several reasons. In September 2010, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stuart Bernstein refused to let Quigley to exit Chapter 11 court protection, arguing that Pfizer had manipulated the bankruptcy process to benefit itself.
As of March 20, 2011, a settlement appears to be close. Pfizer and a committee of asbestos plaintiffs filed an agreement that day in which asbestos claimants would waive their rights to a jury trial and abide by Quigley’s bankruptcy plan; in exchange, Pfizer would pay hundreds of millions of dollars in cash and stock into a trust to pay future asbestos claims.
Author: Tara Strand
Senior Content WriterRead about Tara
Reviewer: Jennifer R. Lucarelli
Lawyer for Mesothelioma Victims and Their FamiliesRead about Jennifer
U.S. Bankruptcy Court: Quigley Co.
“Pfizer, Quigley Close to Deal on Asbestos Claims”
Pfizer – Wikipedia