01. History of Asbestos Use
Warren Pumps History of Asbestos Use
- Years in Operation: 1897 – present
- Location: Warren, Massachusetts
- Production: Pump manufacturing
- Asbestos Trust: No
Warren Pumps was originally founded in 1897 in Warren, Massachusetts, as Warren Steam Pump Company. In the company’s early years, they manufactured pumps for industrial and commercial uses. Some of their product offerings included steam vacuum, piston, plunger, pressure, centrifugal and sewage pumps. These pumps could be used in a variety of applications, such as powering machinery, transferring chemicals or cooling water. The company also manufactured stock pumps, which were used in paper mills.
Warren Pumps was most commonly known for its asbestos use in manufacturing pumps for military applications. They began a partnership with the US Navy in the early 1900s. The company became crucial in military operations during World War II and shifted all plant operations to aid in manufacturing pumps for Navy ships. Warren’s services and products were so heavily used that the company won the Army-Navy E award in 1944 and 1945, which indicated excellence in wartime production.
Warren pumps were used in Navy ships to power the vessels, cool barrels and even purify seawater. Asbestos was often used in these pumps, as it was essential that they were resistant to heat and fire, as well as durable enough to withstand water damage or other problems frequently experienced by ships. The company continued to manufacture its products with asbestos until the 1980s when legislation limited its use.
In 1989, Imo Industries, Inc., another pump manufacturer, acquired Warren Pumps and other pump manufacturing companies, which eventually merged into CIRCOR. Warren Pumps is a member of CIRCOR, and its other members include Colfax Pump Group, Houttuin, Zenith Pumps and India-based Tushaco Pumps. The companies operate underneath CIRCOR today, but all maintain their business names.
Warren Pumps and the other companies under CIRCOR have faced thousands of asbestos lawsuits due to their widespread asbestos use. Warren Pumps has not established a trust fund due to their litigation, but the company continues to face lawsuits and pay claimants today as a result of hazardous exposure from its pumps.
02. Asbestos Products
Warren Pumps Asbestos Products
Warren Pumps used asbestos in its products, such as its pumps, as well as heating and cooling systems. Asbestos was a commonly-sought mineral for pump manufacturing due to its lightweight durability, as well as its ability to resist heat. Asbestos was most commonly used in Warren Pumps’ machinery aboard Navy ships, as its entire operation focused on wartime manufacturing during World War II.
Warren Pumps’ products containing asbestos include:
- Main and fire pumps
- Bilge pumps
- Emergency feed pumps
- Crude oil pumps
- Sewage pumps
- Brine pumps
- Seawater pumps
- Condensate pumps
- Steam reciprocating pumps
- Heating and cooling systems
- Propulsion systems
- Twin-screw pumps
- Multiphase pumps
- Centrifugal pumps
- Rotary pumps
- Hydraulic pumps
03. Occupational Exposure
Warren Pumps and Occupational Exposure
Many occupations have been exposed to asbestos as a result of Warren Pumps’ asbestos use. Along with factory workers who manufactured the company’s asbestos products, many workers and veterans who repaired faulty pumps were also frequently exposed to asbestos fibers. On Navy ships, where pump rooms were poorly ventilated, many veterans and civilian workers were exposed to airborne asbestos fibers while cutting or otherwise disturbing asbestos materials. These confined spaces and insufficient airflow led to a higher risk of asbestos exposure among veterans, thus leading to veterans comprising 30% of mesothelioma diagnoses.
04. Asbestos Litigation
Asbestos Litigation Against Warren Pumps
Warren Pumps faced thousands of asbestos lawsuits as a result of its asbestos use. Workers who were directly exposed to asbestos on the job, or individuals exposed through secondary exposure from family members, may be able to file a lawsuit against Warren Pumps.
One such lawsuit was filed by John R. Davis, a Navy veteran. His claim was filed against Warren Pumps and Leslie Controls. Davis was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma after three periods of asbestos exposure.
John R. Davis’ Periods of Asbestos Exposure
- Navy: 1951 – 1955
- Shell Oil Company refineries: 1956 – 1963
- Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Lab (INEEL): 1964 – 1976
Davis claimed that occupational exposure from Leslie Controls’ valves and Warren’s pumps eventually led to his pleural mesothelioma diagnosis in 2009. In his claim, Davis argued that neither manufacturer had warned of the dangers of asbestos. He frequently inhaled asbestos dust working with these products, and a doctor’s expert testimony affirmed exposure to the products was an important factor in Davis’ diagnosis.
The jury found that Leslie Controls and Warren Pumps were responsible for not warning Davis of the dangers of asbestos. As a result, they awarded $100,000 in economic damages and $25 million in non-economic damages to Davis. The jury also awarded his wife $10 million in non-economic damages related to pain and suffering.
Although Warren Pumps has not established a trust fund to handle their asbestos litigation, they are still receiving and paying out claims today. Payouts are typically considered on a case-by-case basis and are dependent on the individual case and the lawyer’s experience with mesothelioma cases, among other factors.