Resources for Patients and their Families

Raybestos-Manhattan / Raymark Industries, Inc.

The company known as Raymark Industries, Inc. got its start in 1902 as the A.H. Raymond Company. Their name was officially changed in 1916 to the Raybestos Company, and then later changed again to the Raybestos-Manhattan Friction Materials Company in 1929 after the purchase of the Manhattan Rubber Manufacturing Company. Throughout this time, the company produced products for the newly emerging automotive industry, and later they added rubber based items to their production list.

Many of the products created by Raybestos-Manhattan contained a mineral known as asbestos. This was a commonly used material at the time because it had a wide range of industrial applications. It did have one serious drawback, though; it was a dangerously toxic substance. By simply being exposed to asbestos, people would become likely to develop respiratory issues, cancer or other diseases. The most well known example is a killer called mesothelioma, which is still a newsworthy and serious disease today.

Mesothelioma is unique in that it can have a long latency period. This means that someone may not be diagnosed with the disease for many years after asbestos exposure occurred. As a result, the survival rate for this particular cancer is low. There a different mesothelioma cell types including papillary mesothelioma and sarcomatoid mesothelioma to name a couple. The prognosis is typically the same regardless of the cell type, however. While there is an approved vaccine to prevent mesothelioma there is no cure. Our mesothelioma treatment guide contains a lot of information about various treatment options and our mesothelioma resources page provides helpful links to support organizations.

In the late 1970's and early 1980's, millions of lawsuits surfaced against companies that used asbestos in their products. Raybestos-Manhattan changed the name of their company to Raymark in 1982 and discontinued use of the toxic material in the hopes of escaping these lawsuits, but the plan did not work. Raymark was flooded with personal injury claims and spent millions to settle them. In 1985, Craig R. Smith was brought in as CEO, largely for his perceived ability to fight and defeat the majority of these lawsuits. One of his policies was the creation of a holding company named Raytech that would be used to protect the assets from the Raymark empire which had nothing to do with any asbestos-related issues. Stock holders with an interest in Raymark were switched over the Raytech, so that their concerns in the company would also be guarded.

Not long after this, Raymark was forced into Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and all of its assets were sold to pay off company debt and outstanding asbestos claims. Despite Smith's efforts, Raytech was pursued after all the money from Raymark was disbursed. Raytech then filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1989, and underwent a ten year restructuring plan. By 2001, the company had finished with this plan, and was forced to give up 90% of their stock. The funds from these stocks were turned over to a trustee who was given the responsibility of reviewing every remaining asbestos lawsuit and making payments to eligible claims. After all of this was finalized, Raytech was allowed to operate as an independent company that was free of debt and litigation.

Author: Linda Molinari

Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Linda Molinari