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Ford is a well-known automaker that has been around since the 1900s. The motor company also has a reputation for having been sued by many thousand people due to asbestos exposure caused by their car parts. Their asbestos-laden clutch, brake, and gasket parts were known to cause mesothelioma cancer and pulmonary disease between the early 1900s and the mid-1980s. While some Fords contained asbestos-based parts through 1990, and the replacements for those parts were on the market until 2000, the majority of new vehicles manufactured after the mid-1980s did not utilize asbestos-laden materials.
Asbestos-lining used in Ford’s brake and clutch product lines were made out of a high volume of carcinogenic fibers that, once inhaled into the lungs or absorbed through the skin, caused devastating mesotheliomas that often resulted in death for mechanic workers and others. Tearing out and replacing these materials in automobiles put brake-repair workers at a high risk.
Many mechanics were exposed for many decades while working on Fords as well as other types of vehicles that caused cancer, which sometimes caused people who had been injured to sue multiple manufacturers for the exposure that led to their ailments. Others who worked for only the one dealership were more readily able to prove that their exposure risks were solely the result of working with one particular type of product.
Surviving spouses filed a myriad of lawsuits against Ford after their husbands passed away of mesotheliomas as a result of their line of work. Because workers were not warned of the carcinogenic risks they were encountering with each job, people who filed lawsuits and could prove that their injuries were a direct result of asbestos-exposure often received large verdicts and settlements for millions of dollars.
According to a report by the Center for Public Integrity in 2016, a Ford memo from 1971 proves that the company was aware that they needed to find an alternative way to line brakes that would not put them at risk for asbestos-lawsuits. While the company had doubts that asbestos-dust would cause the degree of asbestosis to mechanics that ultimately did occur, they concluded that it would be cheaper to defend any lawsuits as they came up then to spend the extra money to utilize an alternative type of lining at that time. Other documents from the 1960s include company reports by industrial hygienists at the company who concluded that the carcinogenic materials did not cause a significant risk of death.
While it is now known that there is no safe level of asbestos-exposure, and that mesotheliomas can take up to 50 years to be diagnosed, it was not uncommon for manufacturers that utilized asbestos-laden materials to believe that they would save money by continuing to use the deadly materials for as long as they could. This type of decision put many mechanics and others at unnecessary risk for debilitating diseases that frequently resulted in death.
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