Georgia Pacific and Asbestos
As one of the largest privately-owned companies in existence today, Georgia Pacific employs around 40,000 individuals at approximately 300 locations throughout North America, South America and Europe. Georgia Pacific started in 1927 and has been known to manufacture a number of products containing asbestos, which is the agent for potentially developing mesothelioma.
Most of Georgia Pacific’s personal injury or property damage litigation involvement began with the manufacturing of their gypsum products. These products, most often joint system compounds, contained asbestos fibers to help strengthen and add longevity. However, it was this mineral’s carcinogenic properties that brought legal action against the company, even after asbestos was no longer used as a component.
Asbestos fibers pose the greatest threat to individuals in the construction trades who must work with this material on a daily basis. Despite the material’s heavily-regulated status in business today, it remains a threat as a result of its past use and its tendency to fragment into tiny particles that can easily enter the body and lead to the development of several lethal forms of cancer. As homes and other public buildings are renovated or torn down, these sources of asbestos are exposed and pose a threat to all in proximity to the small dust particles.
The company produces the following types of products known to have asbestos:
- Agricultural Gypsum
- Air Gels
- Firedoor Components
- Gypsum Board
- Gypsum Plaster
- Industrial Wipers
- Joint Treatment & Texture
- Lotioned Towels
- Pressure Treated Wood
- Skin Care
- Wood Products
In the mid-1980s, lawsuit filings against manufacturers of asbestos-containing products, including Georgia Pacific, began. Since those first plaintiff claims began trickling in against this company, more than 340,000 individuals have filed claims against the manufacturer for lung and other diseases that have developed. This long delay, then explosion of legal against Georgia Pacific can be explained by the latency period of 20 to 50 years.
Bought by Koch Industries in 2005, this company is now a wholly owned, privately held organization which boasted revenues in 2009 of $100 billion. Furthermore, the company has stepped up its money spent on lobbying recently, which increased from $857,000 in 2004 to $20 million in 2008. Likely thanks to their efforts in Washington at influencing policy making, the company has seen new claims drop as a result of tougher federal standards for making a claim.
In addition, company lobbyists have continued to influence Congressional members on issues of asbestos restriction and public awareness of related diseases. Koch bought the company in 2005 despite inheriting a massive asbestos litigation responsibility, indicating their intention to fight such claims in any way possible, including influencing the legal system in ways that help shelter them from future cases.