Abex Corporation began in 1928 as the American Brake Shoe and Foundry. Their specialization was in the manufacturing of wheels and brakes designed for railroad cars. This company, based in Virginia, also created hydraulic systems for ships and airplanes, as well as brake linings for trucks and cars and many other transportation-related products. The company was purchased in 1968 by Illinois Central Industries Inc., which was a railroad company responsible for operating passenger and freight trains. The company then acquired Pneumo Corporation, which was a Boston-based food, drug, and aerospace company.
These two companies were merged by the parent company to create the Pneumo Abex Corporation that was responsible for the manufacture of industrial, aerospace, and fluid power products. This merger was also responsible for shutting down a manufacturing facility run by Abex that was located in Portsmouth, Virginia. Before its shutdown, however, this plant operated for 50 years, melting and recasting metal from old railroad components into new parts. This entire process created a lot of waste and contaminants, which was detrimental to the entire region.
In 1986, the EPA intervened and required Abex to excavate and remove the soil on and around the foundry, demolish the building, and decontaminate the entire area.
Besides the heavy metal toxicity, Abex Corporation was also known for using asbestos in their products. They utilized this material to help improve durability and heat resistance in their metal products, which led to exposure for employees that worked with any of the parts or within the foundry during its years of operation. The railroad parts were the most common cause of this exposure, but working in the foundry simply resulted in exposure from fibers that were in the air.
Even though the company fully understood the exposure risks, Abex continued to use asbestos in their products for many years after the danger was known. This has created negligence on their part, not only for the workers affected before the risk was discovered, but for the foundry workers and railroad employees exposed to their parts after asbestos use was mostly stopped due to the risk of serious health issues.
Asbestos Lawsuit History
Abex Corporation has faced thousands of lawsuits as a result of the use of asbestos in their products, including one pipefitter who sued Pneumo Abex and multiple other companies as a result of being diagnosed with Mesothelioma in the year 2009. The company was responsible for $20 million in damages for this single case. In addition, they have also been charged with cases from many other affected employees and workers that worked with Abex Corporation or their products through the years. There is no known trust for workers exposed at the hands of Abex, but many cases are still pending.