Turner & Newall was founded in 1871 in Rochdale, United Kingdom by three brothers,
John, Robert, and Samuel Turner. The company initially began as a manufacturer of cotton-cloth packaging. In 1879, the company began to weave asbestos with cloth using machinery. The company continued to diversify its product line and after the First World War, Turner & Newall opened an asbestos cement plant. These asbestos cement sheets were used widely for roof and wall construction in industrial and agricultural buildings. In 1949 the company relocated to Manchester, England and produced gaskets for the automotive industry. Turner & Newall quickly became the largest asbestos producer in the United Kingdom.
As early as the 1920s, physicians recognized that exposure to asbestos caused severe
sickness when asbestosis was identified by British medical journals. 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, Turner & Newall chose to protect its substantial profit margins rather than discontinue use of the mineral.
Turner & Newall manufactured a spray-on, fireproofing, and thermal insulation product
called sprayed limpet asbestos. This was distributed in the United States and Canada. It
consisted of sixty percent asbestos. The product was sprayed directly onto surfaces instead of
paint and provided heat-resistance. For example, the restaurant on top of the Space Needle in
Seattle was sprayed with more than 22,000 square feet of Turner & Newall limpet asbestos.
Turner & Newall also operated a subsidiary in the United States named Keasbey & Mattison
Company, which also sold asbestos products.
Turner & Newall also maintained a number of asbestos mines in southern Africa. Beginning in 1939 and until 2001, Turner & Newall operated an asbestos mine in Havelock, a town in the Kingdom of Swaziland. In 1953, the company bought a major producer of chrysotile asbestos products in Harare and Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Additionally, Turner & Newall had a factory in Armley, England, which operated beginning in the 1870s until 1956. There asbestos materials were broken down and used to line boilers and mattresses. Unfortunately, England did not regulate asbestos until 1970, so the factory operated outside basic safety regulation. The factory emitted asbestos dust, which
covered the streets and rooftops of surrounding houses. It was not uncommon for children to be seen playing in the dust in the streets, making 'snowballs' which were thrown in ignorance of the danger. Children were often reported to play in the factory yard, jumping on the dusty bales of asbestos stored there. While the factory closed in 1956, the toll of its victims continues to climb.
Similarly, in Leeds, England, there was an exceptionally high-rate of cancer deaths that has been linked to the practices of Turner & Newall's factory management there. Asbestos was stored in open in bales and sacks outside the factory on a public road. As early as the 1930s, it was known that deadly illnesses, such as asbestosis and the aggressive cancer, mesothelioma, are caused by exposure to asbestos. Additionally, the asbestos fibers remain in a person's lungs for years and symptoms may not develop for decades.
Turner & Newall's victims might live for decades without knowing of the deadly injury they sustained. Turner & Newall's use of asbestos not only injured individuals in Britain, but injured
thousands in the United States. For example, the products were used in the Ports of New York
and New Jersey, the World Trade Center, and in airports, such as the John F. Kennedy, La
Guardia, and Newark airports. Additionally, limpet asbestos was sprayed in the Chase
Manhattan Bank in New York City.
Turner & Newall's corporate culture was one that ignored the scientific evidence, which
showed asbestos was deadly. The company's founders believed that doctors' opinions and
judgment should be challenged and that the interests of the corporation were paramount. In
1998, Federal-Mogul, a Michigan based company, acquired Turner & Newall. Federal-Mogul
was forced to file for bankruptcy protection, however, as a result of asbestos claims in 2001. The company emerged in 2007 and a trust was created to compensate the victims of asbestos exposure. If you or a loved one has been injured by Turner & Newall, it is important that you contact Gori Julian & Associates immediately for more information on your rights.