Mesothelioma Cases at Rayloc in Morganfield, KY (Podcast)
Paul Kelley talks about mesothelioma cases at Rayloc in Morganfield, Kentucky, which involve asbestos used in the lining of the brake shoes remanufactured at the Rayloc facility.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. And I’m here today with Paul Kelley. Paul is a partner with the Kentucky Personal Injury Law Firm, Satterley & Kelley, which has over 30 years of collective experience in handling cases involving mesothelioma and asbestos exposure. Today we’re talking about mesothelioma cases at Rayloc in Morganfield, Kentucky. Welcome Paul.
Paul Kelley: Good morning, John. How you doing?
John: Good, thanks. So Paul, what is Rayloc? Where are they located?
Paul: So Rayloc was a facility that was located in Morganfield, Kentucky. It was what’s called a brake remanufacturing plant. So Rayloc took old brake shoes, which would consist of the brake shoe itself and the used lining, and it would remove the lining from the old brake shoe and then put a new lining on, repurpose the shoe, and then put it back out for sale to typically NAPA stores. Rayloc is affiliated with the NAPA Automotive stores that are still in existence today. However, that plant in Morganfield, Kentucky went out of business in 2008.
Asbestos Exposure From Working With Brakes at Rayloc
John: Okay. And so how was Rayloc related to asbestos and mesothelioma cancer cases?
Paul: So in our experience, from the cases that we’ve had out of that plant, what typically occurred is the Rayloc facility or the company, Genuine Parts Company, and Rayloc was a division of that, had all these NAPA stores that it was affiliated with throughout the country. And they would go, and customers who would buy brakes from a NAPA store would return those used brakes to that store.
And in exchange for bringing it back, they would get a discount on the new brake. So they’re highly incentivized for customers to bring these used cores back so that they could get a discount on the new brake. Obviously the company got the benefit of being able to sell a new brake to that customer. Those used cores would be collected over a period of time and they would be shipped to a remanufacturing plant such as the one that was in Morganfield, Kentucky.
From there, the people who worked in the Rayloc plant, they would be exposed to asbestos in a variety of ways. So we’ve talked about this in other podcasts, but to refresh everybody’s memory, up until about 2001 for the most part, friction products, and brakes are a type of friction product, contained asbestos. If it was the old drum brakes, it was the linings that contained asbestos. If it was the newer disc brakes, there was a pad between the wheel and the disc that contained asbestos. And so this Rayloc facility predominantly dealt with brake shoes or the drums. So it was the brake linings that typically came in that contained asbestos.
So first there was a group of people who had to remove the old linings. And they would take those linings to a special machine. And they would strip the linings off. They would have to burn them off, scrape them off anyway they could in order to get the old lining off. That old lining of course, what was left of it, contained asbestos. And so people who performed that job were exposed during the de-lining process, if you will. Then when it was time, the shoes would get repurposed, that would kind of go into another area.
And then when the shoes were ready to have the new linings put on, then there was a whole group of folks who worked in the plant that put the new lining on. And the new lining was typically riveted on, which means they had the drill holes into the lining itself in order to ultimately affix it to the shoe. The drilling of the lining would create substantial dust that the employees would be exposed to.
And then in addition, they frequently took them to a grinder. And so they ground down the linings. And the purpose for doing that was so that the lining would fit firmly onto the drum and it would meet the customer’s specifications. And the grinding process, which typically was performed using a grinding wheel of some sort, or a grinding machine, that created massive amounts of dust that the employees that were doing that work breathed on a daily basis for many, many years.
I can’t recall exactly John when that plant opened, but it probably was in the 1950s, perhaps the ’60s. And again, it closed until 2008. And we know for a fact from cases that we’ve worked on involving that plant that it continued to use asbestos containing brake linings to put on the old brake cores that had been repurposed until 2001. So pretty much the vast history of that plant, it operated with asbestos containing brake linings.
The Rayloc Facility Had Asbestos Exposures Up to 2001
John: Right up until 2001 you said?
Paul: Yes, sir.
John: Wow. Yeah. That seems just so recent because we knew about asbestos and the dangers of asbestos long before that.
Paul: Oh, absolutely. The history or the historical knowledge of asbestos exposure goes back to the 1920s and ’30s, but certainly with respect to brakes and brake linings and other friction products, those sorts of things were well known by the late 1960s. So certainly anybody that went to work in a plant like the Morganfield facility in the 1970s and 1980s, they really should not have been exposed to asbestos during that period of time. And they certainly should have been better protected.
Why Did Brakes Have Asbestos?
John: You said that friction products generally contained asbestos for a long time. Is that because the asbestos has these sort of fire preventative properties where when that brake lining would heat up with the friction, it would make sure that it didn’t catch on fire? Is that what it was for?
Paul: Well, it was a durable product. Your brakes need to work and they need to work for a long time. And so the durability was one of the positive features of asbestos. And the story that we’ve heard from a long time from manufacturers of these kinds of products and distributors of these kinds of products, is that there really wasn’t anything better to use that would’ve served the ultimate function of the brake to stop the vehicle.
The problem with that is that’s not true, non-asbestos brake linings were developed easily into the early 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. Certainly they were prevalent everywhere. But the big issue I think was the cost factor. And I think it was a comfort factor that a lot of brake manufacturers just preferred to use the asbestos.
Other Employees Who May Have Been Exposed to Asbestos at Rayloc
John: So you mentioned that the workers at Rayloc who were taking those old brakes and trying to get the linings off, that they would be exposed to asbestos because they’re grinding down the pads, or burning them, or whatever they have to do to get the old linings off. And then there’s people who are putting the new pads on. Those people are also grinding them down. So obviously all those people would be exposed to asbestos. Are there other people at Rayloc who would’ve been exposed to asbestos as well in the course of doing all this work?
Paul: Yeah, certainly everybody else served any function in the plant’s going to be exposed one way or the other. It takes an army of people to operate a plant like that. And you’ve got maintenance people. You have people who run the machines. You have people that actually put the brakes onto the riveting machines or the de-lining machines. You’ve got assembly line workers. You’ve got people who package the finished products. It’s a fairly large facility. But given the nature of the work that was being done, at any given time there are dozens of people who are removing asbestos linings from old brake shoes, and dozens of people who are riveting or grinding the new brake linings creating massive amounts of dust.
So to answer your question, I believe that from what we’ve seen, everybody in the plant is going to be exposed to asbestos during that time frame one way or the other. But probably the people with the most significant exposure, the people that removed and put on the new, but I don’t think it was avoidable by any stretch of the imagination from anybody that worked in that plant.
How to Get Help If You Were Exposed to Asbestos at Rayloc
John: So if you think that you were exposed to asbestos due to Rayloc brakes or working at the Rayloc plant, and you have lung cancer, or asbestosis, or mesothelioma, what should you do?
Paul: Well, certainly you should tell your doctor what exposure you’ve had. It’s not necessarily important to the doctors in terms of how they treat the patients. However, it’s something that they’re always interested in knowing so they can get an idea of where the exposure occurred, what the nature of your disease is. Sometimes it’s helpful in making the diagnosis because mesothelioma can be a difficult diagnosis to make. It’s rare. There’s only about 3000 cases per year that are diagnosed nationwide. So it’s not always the first thing the doctors look at. So it’s always important to let your physicians know that you’ve had this exposure, potential exposure over the course of your career.
Once the medical situation is under control, diagnosis has occurred, a treatment plan has been developed. I think it’s critical to speak to a lawyer to get a better understanding of what your rights are. If you’re a Rayloc employee, you can’t file a tort action or a personal injury claim under Kentucky Law against Rayloc. However, you could pursue a worker’s compensation claim against that company.
However, all of the lining manufacturers who provided the linings of that plant, you can pursue a lawsuit against those companies. And there were many companies that provided asbestos containing brake linings of that facility over its 30 or 40 year history. And a cause of action can be pursued against those companies. And as I mentioned before, from our 20 to 25 years of experience, I’m working on these kinds of cases, including cases for people that worked at this facility. Those lining manufacturers were well aware of the hazards, and failed to provide any warnings, or failed to provide meaningful warnings. But the only way that you can recover against these companies is to file a lawsuit. They will not fairly compensate folks unless they’ve been challenged in court.
Brake Lining Manufacturers Knew That Asbestos Was Dangerous and Continued to Use It — If You’ve Been Affected, You May Be Able to Bring a Legal Claim Against Them
John: Right. And even though Rayloc itself doesn’t exist anymore in Kentucky, that plant doesn’t exist, you still have a course of action, like you said, to go after the lining manufacturers. And even if Rayloc did exist, you wouldn’t be able to submit a claim against them as an employee because of the way that the law works in Kentucky. But you do have a course of action. So just like don’t give up and say, “Oh, well Rayloc doesn’t exist anymore, so there’s probably nothing I can do,” and just sort of stop there.
Paul: Absolutely. And there’s all kinds of remedies that are available, the lining manufacturers. And in some instances, we’ve represented people whose spouses worked at a facility like Rayloc, and the spouses oddly enough, under Kentucky law, have the ability to file a lawsuit directly against the company that the employee wouldn’t be able to file because of Kentucky workers’ compensation laws. So the Rayloc facilities closed down, but Rayloc’s parent company, Genuine Parts Company still exists. And in certain situations, Genuine Parts can be pursued.
Statute of Limitations on Filing Cases for Asbestos Exposure
John: Okay. And is there a statute of limitations on filing a case concerning asbestos exposure that occurred at the Rayloc facility?
Paul: Absolutely. In Kentucky, it’s typically one year from the date that people know or should know that they’re injured, and know or should know the cause of that injury. As a rule of thumb, we always go by the diagnosis date. There are always arguments being made that somebody didn’t know what the cause of their injury was until six months after they’re diagnosed. But to be safe, we always recommend going with a diagnosis date and getting that lawsuit filed within a year from that date.
Also as a practical matter, the diagnosis of mesothelioma is very dire. Sometimes people decline pretty quickly from diagnosis of that disease. And so we always want to move quickly. That’s why we recommend contacting an attorney quickly. Contact an attorney who has litigated before out of a particular plant like Rayloc, because I don’t have to conduct any investigation whatsoever. I know exactly who to sue right now if somebody walked in our office.
But we want to make sure that if you come to us, that you have an opportunity to meaningfully participate in your case. And hopefully someone is diagnosed with this cancer, hopefully treatment will work out well. They will live for a long time and possibly even beat it. But unfortunately, the statistics tell us that 6 to 18 months is a typical life expectancy from the date of diagnosis of this disease. So it is always very, very important to act quickly. So even though the statute of limitations is a year, and that seems like a long time, the reality is it’s not very long at all.
Contact Satterley & Kelley if You or a Loved One Has Mesothelioma From Asbestos Exposure
John: Right. Absolutely. All right. Well that’s really good information, Paul. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Paul: Thanks, John, I appreciate it.
John: And for more information about mesothelioma and asbestos exposure, visit the law firm of Satterley & Kelley at satterleylaw.com or call 855-385-9532.