As a member of a class-action lawsuit against Celotex Corporation and Carey Canada, Erie County, New York is set to receive $1.3 million in payment for property damage. The county and other plaintiffs in the suit claimed that Celotex and Carey Canada caused property damage and personal injury from asbestos -containing materials manufactured by the companies which were installed in county buildings. Celotex Corporation is a manufacturer and distributor of asbestos products. The corporation owns Carey Canada which mined and distributed asbestos fibers until 1986. Both of these companies were the subjects not only of the suit involving Erie County but also many other lawsuits for injuries, illnesses, and damages incurred from the use of their asbestos products.
The numerous lawsuits forced both companies to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1990. Asbestos exposure through inhaling dust or fibers has been known to cause several lung diseases in humans. Many of these are deadly such as the cancerous mesothelioma or asbestosis . Since these diseases lie in wait for 10 to 20 years after exposure, it can be difficult to know the impact of asbestos contaminated buildings until decades in the future. The $1.3 million plus interest awarded to Erie County will help to defray the costs for removal of the asbestos from public buildings, but at a price of $400,000 two years ago to clean out the asbestos from a single floor of the 16 story Rath County Office Building, the award money will not go far enough, and the cost to the lives of the county employees who work in these asbestos contaminated buildings can never be fully realized.