42 Years - A Professional Law Corporation - Helping Asbestos Victims Since 1974


Pneumo Abex Corporation – A History of Asbestos Death and Disease

Pneumo AbexWhen I tell people that I am an attorney who seeks justice for those who have been exposed to asbestos, some people react with surprise. “Exposed to asbestos?” they ask.  “Does that still happen?  Is anyone exposed to asbestos anymore?”

Sadly yes. Thousands of people have been exposed to asbestos in the decades since it has become common knowledge about the fatal damage that being exposed to asbestos causes to the lungs. People are being exposed to asbestos right now.  I wish this wasn’t true.

But there are two types of people in this world.  There are people who try to do well by doing good. And unfortunately there are people who will do anything for money. Even if it gets innocent people killed. And that is how people get exposed to asbestos.

Consider the Pneumo Abex Corporation.  Founded in 1928 in Portsmouth, Virginia as the American Brake Shoe and Foundry, Pneumo Abex produced asbestos-containing products until 1987.

Gordon Bankhead worked with Pneumo Abex brake linings from 1965 to 1999 servicing and repairing vehicles at an Oakland, CA shipping company. He helped inspect, replace and grind asbestos-containing brakes. In doing this, he breathed deadly asbestos dust. He died from mesothelioma in 2011 at age 68.

An Alameda County, California jury returned an $11 million verdict in an asbestos wrongful death suit (Emily Bankhead, Tammy Bankhead, and Debbie Bankhead Meiers v. ArvinMeritor, Inc., et al., Alameda County Superior Court Case No. RG12632899) against Pneumo Abex LLC on January 15, 2014. Kazan Law partner David McClain represented the Bankhead family. This follows a January 2011 verdict assessing punitive damages against Phuemo Abex LLC of $9 million along with compensatory damages for Mr. Bankhead’s pain and suffering and for his wife Emily’s suffering as she watched his disease progress and take his life.

Evidence our firm brought forward in the Bankhead case and an earlier case (Robert Frank Smith and Mary Lou Smith v. Pneumo Abex LLC, Los Angeles County Superior Court No. BC396072) proved that Pneumo Abex knew of the deadly health effects of breathing asbestos dust since at least the 1940s, but that Pneumo Abex did not begin warning  customers of those effects until years after their customers’ employees like Mr. Bankhead and Mr. Smith were exposed to the asbestos-containing brakes it made and sold. In fact, Pneumo Abex was involved in medical studies on the health effects of asbestos during the 1930s and 1940s and its medical director was a frequent speaker on asbestos health hazards during the 1940s.

The company knew by then that asbestos killed. By the 1950s they knew it caused lung cancer and by 1963 they knew it caused mesothelioma. Despite its knowledge of the hazards of asbestos, Pneumo Abex continued to sell asbestos-containing brakes until 1987 without warning its victims of the dangers of asbestos or the risk of fatal cancer.

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