The Congoleum Corporation has been a producer of flooring products for more than 120 years. The company’s roots are from Scotland, where Michael Nairn pioneered inexpensive flooring by using heavy cloth from boat sails. Eventually, Nairn migrated to the United States and settled in Kearny, New Jersey. His business continued to grow and shifted to linoleum products, which were an economical alternative to wood-flooring.
Congoleum established a business relationship with an industrial supplier located in what was then called “Belgian Congo.” The corporation’s name, “Congoleum,” was derived from this relationship. The inexpensive nature of Congoleum floors brought the Congoleum Company success as the United States experienced a housing boom after the Second World War.
While Congoleum Corporation enjoyed profits, their employees and customers were being poisoned by Congoleum products. For most of the company’s history, Congoleum products contained a toxic substance called asbestos. Asbestos was added so the flooring was more durable and heat-resistant.
As early as the 1920s, physicians recognized that exposure to asbestos caused severe sickness when asbestosis was identified by British medical journals. It was known that illnesses, such as asbestosis and the aggressive cancer mesothelioma, are caused by exposure to asbestos.
At the same time, insurance companies in the United States and Canada stopped selling life insurance to asbestos workers. Moreover, safer substitutes for most asbestos uses were known as early as the 1930s. Nevertheless, Congoleum chose to protect its substantial profit margins rather than discontinue use of the mineral.
Additionally, the asbestos fibers remain in a person’s lungs for years and symptoms may not develop for decades. Thus, Congoleum’s victims might live for decades without knowing of the deadly injury they sustained. Thus, thousands developed severe illness from Congoleum.
Those most vulnerable were employees, tile installers, contractors, construction workers, shipyard workers and members of the United States military.
Congoleum Corporation filed for bankruptcy protection in 1996. In 2003, those proceedings were completed and a trust was formed to benefit the victims of Congoleum’s use of asbestos. If you or a loved one has been injured by Congoleum, it is important that you contact The Gori Law Firm immediately for more information on your rights.