G.A.F. Corporation, which stands for “General Aniline and Film Corporation,” was established in 1929 as an American subsidiary of a German chemical company, IG Farben. G.A.F. was created by IG Farben to compete with chemical firms in the North American market. Eventually G.A.F. became one of the leading manufacturers of residential and commercial construction products. These included deck materials, railings, decorative stone, ductwork and specialty fabrics. Unfortunately, the company used toxic asbestos to manufacture these products.
Unlike other companies in the United States which benefited from the Second World War, G.A.F. was seized by the United States federal government because of its German parent corporation. The federal government appointed the board of directors for the company until 1965. Thus, G.A.F.’s competitors, such as Kodak, Xerox and DuPont, were able to grow, while G.A.F. was seized.
After the seizure ended, however, G.A.F. acquired Ruberoid Corporation and quickly expanded its product lines. Through this acquisition, G.A.F. added roofing materials to its product line. Ruberoid products, however, used large amounts of asbestos for production.
Asbestos was added to insulation, shingles and residential siding because the mineral made the products resistant to weather and heat. Also, Ruberoid owned the largest asbestos mine in the state of Virginia. This mine continued to operate long after asbestos was scientifically proven to be toxic, but closed in 1975.
As early as the 1920s, physicians recognized that exposure to asbestos caused severe sickness when asbestosis was identified by British medical journals. It was know 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, G.A.F. chose to protect its substantial profit margins rather than discontinue use of the mineral.
The manufacturing of G.A.F. products exposed thousands of workers and consumers to toxins. In particular, construction workers, miners, roofers, carpenters, and consumers were exposed to the dangerous system. In 2001, G.A.F. filed for bankruptcy protection and was reorganized. A court-ordered trust was established to address unsettled and ongoing asbestos claims. Despite bankruptcy, G.A.F. Corporation continues to be a successful company. If you or a loved one has been injured by G.A.F., it is important that you contact The Gori Law Firm immediately for more information on your rights.