Railroad Friction Products Corporation (“RFPC”) was incorporated in December, 1954. Its principal place of business is located in Laurinburg, North Carolina. RFPC has held a Certificate of Authority to do business in California between 1961 and the present. RFPC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wabtec Corporation, located in Wilmerding, Pennsylvania.
Between approximately the late 1950s and 1980, RFPC purchased asbestos-containing composition brake shoes from Johns-Manville Corporation. RFPC sold these brake shoes to various railroads under the brand name COBRA.
The asbestos fiber used in the manufacture of the COBRA brakes was chrysotile. The backing stock of the brakes contained asbestos between 1958-1980, and the wearable friction material in the brakes contained asbestos from 1968-1980. Asbestos was added to many friction products because of it high durability and resistance to heat and fire.
The handling, removal and installation of COBRA brake shoes caused the release, discharge and emission of hazardous levels of breathable asbestos fiber and dust from the brakes into the breathing zone of the worker, thereby causing the worker to be exposed to unsafe levels of asbestos from the product. When chrysotile asbestos products become old are in need of repair, they can be easily crumbled and release carcinogenic dust into the air.
Once asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can become lodged in the body, causing mesothelioma and other asbestos related cancers. Although chrysotile asbestos is believed to be less toxic than other types, research has shown elevated numbers of asbestos related diseases among workers and populations that live near mines or work in industries that use products containing this mineral. Occupational and health experts all agree that there is no safe type of asbestos and no safe level of exposure.
If you or someone you know has been exposed to asbestos as a result of handling or being involved with Cobra Brake Shoes, and if you think such exposure may have caused you or your loved one to become ill with mesothelioma or any other form of asbestos related disease, please contact the lawyers at Clapper, Patti Schweizer & Mason for more information.