The Celotex Corporation of Tampa, Florida, was established by Phillip Carey Manufacturing Company as a separate division specializing in the manufacture of thermal insulation. Their insulation was primarily used for industrial boilers and the hot pipes leading from them. Most of their business was done in the New England, New York, and Midwest areas of the United States. Phillip Carey operated asbestos mines in Canada under a separate division. The asbestos from these mines was the source of the primary manufacturing material used for Celotex insulation.
After a period of restructuring by Phillip Carey Manufacturing in 1967, parts of the Celotex manufacturing plant were sold off to Brand Insulation, and Celotex’s liabilities were taken over by Rapid American. After a series of mergers, Celotex was reborn as a manufacturer of other industrial products that used an asbestos base. At this time, the mining division in Quebec came to be called Carey Canadian Mines.
The asbestos products manufactured by Celotex from 1906 to 1973 came to be known as Carey Mine products. Some of those products include the following:
- Carey 7-M Asbestos Shorts
- Carey Asphalt Floor Tile
- Carey Block Insulation
- Carey Fiberock Felt
- Carey Flexboard
- Carey Insulating Cement
- Carey Millboard
- Carey and Careytemp Pipe Covering
- Carey Thermoboard
- Careystone Corrugated Sheet
Both Celotex and Carey Canadian Mines were acquired in 1972 by the Jim Walter Corporation. At the time, Celotex had already taken on exceptionally high liabilities due to asbestos lawsuits. Celotex was forced to assume liability for the suits because Rapid American was only a holder and had nothing to do with asbestos manufacturing. Celotex aggressively defended suits brought against it, fighting in both the lower courts and appeals courts. Eventually, both companies were spun out of the corporation as independent businesses and were bought by Kohlberg, Kravis, & Roberts. This was an attempt to shake off some of the pending lawsuits against the companies by putting together a new settlement matrix. The strategy was successful, and the most the companies had to pay out for a single case in the settlement was $5,000.
Many parties refused to settle under the new settlement matrix, and eventually Celotex and Carey were forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1990. After years of reorganizing, a trust was formed in 1998 to handle the asbestos-related lawsuits and pay off the liability claims judged against the companies in court.