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What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber that was once valued for its resistance to heat, electrical and chemical damage, and was used by dozens of trades. With millions of microscopic fibers, asbestos can easily break apart and become airborne and possibly inhaled. Should asbestos fibers be inhaled, they may become lodged in your lungs, potentially leading to lung cancer, mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases. Additionally, because asbestos fibers travel so easily through the air, not only the person working with asbestos-containing products but also bystanders run the risk of inhaling these fibers and developing an asbestos-related disease even decades after exposure.

From the early 1900s through the 1980s, asbestos was used in thousands of different industrial products, including pipe and furnace insulation materials, roofing shingles, floor tiles, millboard, textured paints and other coating materials.

In 1989, the United States banned asbestos in specific products. This ban, however, did not ban the use of asbestos altogether. Additionally, other countries continue to mine asbestos. As a result, asbestos can still be found in a number of consumer products, including building materials, friction products and heat-resistant fabrics.

Mesothelioma and Asbestos-Related Diseases

Asbestos exposure is strongly associated with several potentially fatal illnesses, the most serious of which is malignant mesothelioma. This aggressive cancer affects the lining of the lungs, heart, abdomen and other organs, and, as with all asbestos-related diseases, it often doesn’t manifest for years or even decades after the initial exposure. Because mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer and other related diseases can almost always be attributed to asbestos exposure, you should tell your doctor about any past exposure, including your work or family history. Learn more about our cases involving mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases.

Contact an Asbestos Attorney

Motley Rice is prepared to help asbestos victims and their families obtain the compensation they deserve from companies responsible for their exposure. With approximately 70 attorneys, hundreds of support personnel and co-counsel across the country, our attorneys have represented asbestos victims throughout the United States.

If you would like to explore your legal rights regarding a potential asbestos exposure lawsuit, please contact our asbestos team by email or call 1.800.768.4026.

Asbestos Exposure

Companies and manufacturers dealing with asbestos have known for almost a century that the inhalation of asbestos fibers is associated with mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and several other debilitating and often fatal asbestos-related diseases. Thousands of unsuspecting workers were exposed daily to this dangerous carcinogen as they worked in factories, mills, railroads and other industrial occupations, often bringing asbestos fibers home and unknowingly exposing their family through household asbestos exposure.

For decades, asbestos manufacturers chose profit over people’s health by continuing to manufacture, distribute and supply asbestos-containing products. Until this harmful carcinogen is banned once and for all, asbestos exposure, asbestos-related diseases and mesothelioma will continue to be major national and international health concerns.


Motley Rice lawyers have more than three decades of experience litigating asbestos-related lawsuits, taking on giant asbestos corporations and fighting for the rights of mesothelioma victims and victims of asbestos cancers and other related diseases.

Motley Rice co-founder Ron Motley began working on asbestos cases in 1976, but it wasn’t until 1978, when he secured the infamous “Sumner Simpson” papers demonstrating manufacturer knowledge of the hazards of asbestos as early as the 1920’s, that the tide began to turn against asbestos defendants.

Many firms also turn to Motley Rice to help with their cases due to our experience and resources in challenging asbestos- and mesothelioma-related litigation. Along with litigating asbestos cases across the country, our attorneys also hold leadership and liaison roles in asbestos litigation in several of the states where our offices are located, including West Virginia, South Carolina, Rhode Island and New York.

West Virginia Asbestos

Along with our offices located around the country, we’re proud to have asbestos-focused attorneys working from Morgantown, West Virginia. For more than 30 years, our attorneys have worked closely with West Virginians who have been exposed to asbestos through their employment at one of the many industrial plants located throughout the state.

Our Work as Canadian Asbestos Counsel

Our attorneys have also served as U.S. legal counsel for Canadian provincial workers’ compensation boards since 1987, helping Canadians seek U.S. legal recoveries from non-employer third parties who may be responsible for a Canadian employee’s workplace-related injury.

Asbestos Exposure, World Trade Center Dust and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund

On Oct. 3, 2011, the United States government reopened the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund for people physically injured or exposed to toxins such as asbestos and other harmful dust at the World Trade Center crash site following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The new 9/11 VCF enables more people, including 9/11 workers and volunteers who were hurt, got sick or died as a result of the attacks and the aftermath, to obtain compensation from the program. Learn more about this fund and how we can help.


The following industrial occupations are traditionally associated with high levels of asbestos exposure:

  • Aerospace and Missile Production Workers
  • Aircraft
    • Manufacturing Production Workers
    • Mechanics
  • Automobile
    • Brake and Clutch Manufacturing and Assembly Workers
    • Manufacturing Production Workers
    • Mechanics
  • Boilermakers
  • Chemical Workers
  • Construction/Demolition
    • Bricklayers
    • Building Engineers
    • Carpenters
    • Cement and Masonry Workers
    • Demolition and Wrecking Crews
    • Drywallers
    • HVAC Mechanics
    • Laborers
    • Plasterers
    • Roofers
    • Steelworkers and Ironworkers
    • Tile/Linoleum Installers
    • Welders
  • Custodians
  • Electrical/Electricians
  • Insulators
  • Lab Analysts and Technicians
  • Machinists
  • Maritime
    • Coastguardsmen
    • Longshoremen
    • Merchant Mariners
    • Shipyard Workers including Electricians, Insulators, Laborers, Laggers, Painters, Pipefitters, Maintenance Workers and Welders
    • U.S. Navy Personnel
  • Plant/Mill Workers
    • Asbestos Textile Mill Workers
    • Building Material Products Manufacturers
    • Cement Plant Production Workers
    • Chemical Plant Workers
    • Packing and Gasket Manufacturing Plant Workers
    • Paper Plant and Paper Mill Workers
    • Protective Clothing and Glove Manufacturers
    • Refractory Products Plant Workers
    • Rubber Workers, including Tire Makers and Hose Makers
    • Warehouse Workers
  • Pipefitters
  • Powerhouse Workers
  • Railroad
    • Car Mechanics and Rebuilders
    • Locomotive Mechanics
    • Maintenance Personnel
    • Workers
  • Refinery Workers
  • Sheetmetal Workers
  • Steamfitters


You do not have to work in an industrial occupation in order to receive high levels of asbestos exposure, and using asbestos continues to be legal in the United States. The following list of products may have asbestos in them:

  • acoustical products, spray and tile
  • adhesives and cements
  • asbestos rope, braiding and wick
  • asbestos tape or thread
  • asphalt products, including tile and sundries
  • automotive, truck, and marine products, including brake linings, pads and shoes, brake blocks, clutch materials, transmission components, gasket materials and shock absorbers
  • caulking compounds and coatings
  • ceiling panels, tiles and related sundries
  • cement products, including cement or mortar, board, flooring, panels, pipe, flat and corrugated sheet, siding, shingles and stucco
  • ceramic or paint fillers
  • cigarette filters
  • commercial or industrial machines and components, including brake linings, clutch facings, thermal insulation, transmission components and gaskets
  • detackifying/demolding agents
  • drywall joint treatment products, including joint compound, joint cement, joint treatment, joint sealant and caulking compounds
  • fireproofing products
  • gaskets, sheet packing and molded products
  • gypsum products, including fire retardant gypsum board, lath, finishing and taping compounds
  • hair dryers
  • insulating tape
  • mastics, coating and sealing products
  • millboard, rollboard and mineral wool board
  • oven mittens
  • paint products, roof coating and floor coating
  • phenolic or plastic resins
  • plaster and plaster products
  • plumbing joint sealant
  • protective clothing, often worn by firefighters and race car drivers
  • racing helmets
  • refractory products, including clays; cements; shapes; blocks used to build, insulate, or seal structures subjected to high heat such as boilers, furnaces and kilns
  • resilient floor-covering products, including tile, sheet, backing and sundries
  • roofing products, including cements, coating, felts, deckings, flashings, paints and shingles
  • siding
  • spackling compound
  • textured paints
  • thermal insulating blankets
  • thermal insulating cloth/textiles
  • thermal insulation products, including pipe insulation, pipe covering, pipe wrap, cement, block insulation, spray and sundries

Asbestos Bankruptcies

Nearly 100 asbestos industry companies have filed for and entered bankruptcy in the past three decades, with more than 30 trusts created through asbestos bankruptcy reorganization in the past 10 years. The majority of the asbestos bankruptcy plans involve a settlement trust that processes asbestos personal injury claims and disburses compensation.

Motley Rice co-founder Joe Rice has been instrumental in developing and negotiating structured settlements with asbestos manufacturers emerging from bankruptcy. Through our many years in asbestos litigation and working with asbestos trusts in particular, we have acquired a strong understanding of the bankruptcy trust process as well as the wide variety of jobsites and trades involved.

This historic background gives our firm the in-depth knowledge and experience to help asbestos victims navigate an often complicated claims system and to receive fair, expeditious and timely recovery from bankrupt asbestos manufacturers.


Asbestos-related Disease Resources

The resources below are meant to provide information that might prove helpful to those who may have been hurt by asbestos. These resources are not meant to serve as legal advice and are not intended to foster an attorney-client relationship. They are strictly for convenience and aid.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: safety and health guidelines regarding asbestos in the workplace

International Mesothelioma Program: Located at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, IMP provides research updates, resources and helpful information regarding mesothelioma.

National Cancer Institute: Malignant Mesothelioma: Provides up-to-date information on mesothelioma and clinical trials, resources for people dealing with mesothelioma and details for researchers and health professionals.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network: An excellent resource for finding hospitals and physicians, current guidelines in oncology and clinical trials.

Princess Margaret Mesothelioma Research Program: One of the top cancer research centers in the world.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: resources available to veterans exposed to asbestos while in service

Advocacy, Education and Support

Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization: ADAO provides a unified voice for asbestos victims in working toward awareness, education, advocacy, prevention support and a cure for asbestos-related diseases.

Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation: Non-profit organization dedicated to ending mesothelioma and the suffering caused by it through research, education, support and advocacy.

Coping with Serious Illness

AARP: Provides a wealth of information about AARP grief programs, resources and support.

Hospice Foundation of America: information on the benefits of hospice and assistance in locating a hospice near you.

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