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Honeywell International Attempts to Shed Liability through New Legislation

Honeywell Corp. Headquarters

Entrance to Honeywell headquarters, Morristown, NJ

Having been a member of the board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) since 2007, Honeywell International is hoping the government arm can succeed in granting legal immunity to corporations that manufacture dangerous products.

According to a recent report from the American Association of Justice, the ILR has sought to restrict legislation aimed at such companies, which would completely brush aside any liability they have in producing equipment and other products that caused serious health issues for workers.

In the case of Honeywell, legislation to grant immunity would take the company off the hook for its Zylon bulletproof vest, which has been found to degrade in heat and lose functionality, the Association noted.

In addition, Honeywell could shed a large number of asbestos lawsuits and compensation it has been hit with through such immunity legislation.

Asbestos at forefront of Honeywell’s motivation

While the Zylon bulletproof vest caused significant problems and was manufactured by Honeywell at least five years after its defects were discovered, new legislation being pushed by the ILR would also grant immunity for the corporation in terms of asbestos litigation.

Specifically, a jury in McLean County, Illinois, handed down a multi-million dollar verdict against Honeywell and three other companies in March for alleged negligence in exposing workers to the carcinogenic mineral fibers.

The Association notes that less than a week after the verdict was delivered, the ILR issued a release suggesting that the case “confirms a troubling trend in the State of Illinois where there is a hostile litigation environment.”

Following this response from the ILR, a number of publications also came out against the verdict. Most notably, the Chicago Tribune published an op-ed by ILR president Lisa Rickard, who named McLean County “a home for outrageous, abusive lawsuits,” the American Association of Justice reported.

Honeywell, others share responsibility for occupational asbestos exposure

The case in McLean County, Illinois, was hardly the only asbestos lawsuit to be launched against Honeywell and other large corporations, however. For instance, in September, a West Virginia couple claimed Honeywell, Ford Motor Co. and other corporations were responsible for exposing the husband to asbestos on the job, which ultimately led to his development of lung cancer.

In these cases, victims of asbestos-related illnesses like lung cancer, asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma are fighting for compensation from large businesses for their alleged negligence and failure to promote a safe work environment.

According to the World Health Organization, such diseases kill approximately 107,000 people around the world each year.

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