Former employees of Rockwell International were exposed to asbestos. The exposure affected nearly everyone who worked at the facility before 1980 and potentially even later. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma due to your exposure, you have a right to compensation.
The legal team at Satterley & Kelley, PLLC has over three decades of collective experience representing clients with mesothelioma diagnoses, and we have even represented former Rockwell employees. To get help now, contact us today.
(Asbestos fibers By Aram Dulyan (Wikimedia Commons User: Aramgutang))
Rockwell International was a die-casting facility in Russellville, KY, a small town in the southwest part of the state. Opened in about 1957, the facility made a variety of aluminum products including water meters, gas meters, typewriter covers, and many different car parts. It operated under the name Rockwell until 1989. Then, it operated under the names of British Tyre and Rubber and Precision Die Casting, and eventually, the plant shut down.
Asbestos was primarily used as an insulator at Rockwell International. It was used to insulate the steam and water pipes that ran through the facility — the insulation ensured that the materials moving through the pipes stayed at their target temperature.
Asbestos was also used in the furnaces used to melt and store the aluminum. To melt the aluminum so that it could be injected into a die cast, these furnaces got to over 1,000 degrees, and to protect their integrity, they were lined with firebrick and refractory materials that contained asbestos.
The people who installed the furnaces and the pipes were exposed to asbestos. So too were the people that worked on this equipment. Once a year or every other year, the employees removed the firebrick and replaced it with a new lining, which helped to ensure that the lining continued to insulate the furnace effectively., Unfortunately, relining these furnaces also exposed workers to asbestos.
Ripping out the old lining filled the air in the facility with microscopic asbestos fibers. This meant that everyone in the area — even managers and administrators who only occasionally came into the production space — was exposed to asbestos. That includes people in the following roles at Rockwell:
- Equipment operators
- Furnace installers
- Furnace operators
- Maintenance workers
- Officer workers
That is not an exhaustive list. Keep in mind that Rockwell had about 30 furnaces, and they contained asbestos from the 1950s at least to the mid-1970s. As a result, there was usually a furnace being relined every 10 to 12 days. In other words, there was nearly always asbestos in the air.
Mesothelioma takes at least 10 years from the time of exposure to the time of diagnosis, and often, the latency period is 30 to 40 years. Because so much time has passed, it can be challenging for people to pinpoint the cause of exposure.
Most people are exposed occupationally. Consider that fewer than one in a million people get diagnosed with mesothelioma. However, at this plant, there have been a handful of diagnoses even though there were just a few thousand employees. The drastic difference between average rates of diagnosis and rates of diagnosis from former Rockwell employees indicates that this is a significant exposure site.
In Kentucky, you have a year from the date of discovery to file a lawsuit. In most cases, that’s a year from diagnosis. However, in some situations, you can argue that the date of discovery was the date you realized the site of your exposure, even if this is later than the date of diagnosis.
If you’re bringing forward a lawsuit for a deceased family member, the deadline is one year after the date you set up the estate and no later than two years after the date of death. Note that you cannot file this type of lawsuit on behalf of a deceased loved one without an estate.
Unfortunately, if you were a former employee of Rockwell, you cannot bring a lawsuit against them. However, you may be able to file a suit against other negligent parties such as the manufacturers of the ovens or of the linings. When you consult with an asbestos attorney, they will talk with you about your options.
You cannot sue Rockwell on behalf of your relative if they are a former employee of Rockwell. However, if you contracted mesothelioma due to secondary exposure from a Rockwell employee, you can bring a lawsuit against the company. For example, if your spouse worked at Rockwell and you breathed in asbestos fibers while doing their laundry,. that is secondary exposure, for which you can sue Rockwell for causing your disease.
When you’re dealing with an asbestos-related lawsuit, you need an experienced attorney in your corner, and that’s what we can provide. At Satterley & Kelley, PLLC, we have decades of experience with asbestos litigation, and we have even represented former Rockwell employees in the past. To get help now, contact us for a free consultation today.