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Dana Corporation

Dana The Dana Corporation ™logo that is familiar to all mechanics was registered in Canada in June 1969. The logo registration was transferred to Dana Limited after Dana’s bankruptcy in 2006.

The Dana Corporation was not always called Dana. It started its long history as the Spicer Manufacturing Company after 24 year old founder Clarence Spicer registered a patent for a universal joint (U-Joint) in New Jersey in 1904. By 1906 he had a number of customers for his product including Buick, American Motors and Mack Trucks.

Charles Dana became involved in the Spicer Manufacturing Company in 1914 when he purchased a controlling interest in the financially strapped company and took operational control by becoming the president and treasurer in 1916.

Spicer Dana expanded its line of products over the next decades by purchasing and developing axel, transmission and frame technologies. Clarence Spicer continued to be the creative force behind the company registering more than 40 patents during his lifetime. Spicer died in 1939 leaving his company in the capable hands of Charles Dana who had kept the Dana Corporation afloat during the difficult great depression years.

Dana, now located in Toledo, Ohio for proximity to the automotive manufacturing taking place in Detroit, like so many manufacturing companies dedicated itself to war effort work by retooling during WWII for military vehicles. Dana’s product line by this stage in corporate history included:

  • Limited slip differentials
  • Transmission mechanisms
  • Gears
  • Gear boxes
  • Hydraulic torques
  • Cam shafts
  • Rocker arms
  • Piston pins and bushings
  • Oil seal rings and other gasketing for internal combustion engineering engines

To honour Charles Dana’s service to the organization, the Company was re-named the Dana Corporation in 1946. Spicer’s name was kept alive by the company by branding Dana’s driveline products, including clutches, transmissions, and the original U-joints as Spicer products.

Dana had the American car market locked up in the 1950s with virtually no vehicle rolling off an assembly line in North America without a Spicer/Dana product installed. We can all thank Dana for bringing us cruise control which was first installed by Chrysler in their 1958 models. With production going strong Dana turned its attention to farm equipment and heavy truck markets.

Dana retroactively registered numerous wordmarks in Canada in 1961, including the Spicer line of products. At this time Dana had operation in over 20 countries world-wide. Dana was instrumental in bring the Japanese auto industry to the forefront.

Perfect Circle Taper Shim Undergoing a period of growth Dana purchased a number of their competitors’ businesses during the 1960s. The Perfect Circle Company Limited had been operating in Canada since 1921 making many automotive parts including pistons, bearings and front-end parts. Dana purchased Perfect Circle in 1963.

As one of Charles Dana’s last acts before retirement he negotiated the purchase by Dana of the Victor Gasket Manufacturing Company in 1966. This consolidated Dana’s share of the automotive original equipment market.

Many of Dana’s products included asbestos. Friction materials such as brake and clutch plates contained up to 50% asbestos while gasketing materials, including piston rings and sleeves were up to 80% asbestos. The asbestos increased the durability of these products at a lower price point than other materials. It is known that the Dana corporation had senior employees that attended regular meetings at manufacturing seminars where the heath problems associated with asbestos were discussed and yet the Corporation took no steps to develop alternatives to asbestos use. Dana research and development department was experimenting with driveline products for electric vehicles in 1967 yet took no steps to develop products to phase out asbestos use.

During the 1970s Dana continued to expand its reach globally. 1974 saw Dana top the $1 Billion sales mark and the $2 Billion mark in 1978.

Due to the historic use of asbestos in Dana, Victor Gaskets and Perfect Circle automotive parts Dana was named as a defendant in thousands of lawsuits by mesothelioma victims. In 2006 Dana was facing over 68,000 claims. They filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and emerged as Dana Limited in 2007. During their reorganization period Dana was able to settle massive number of claims against the company. Rather than set up an asbestos trust the company set aside $240 million for asbestos liability claims. The Corporation that holds and manages the funds for asbestos claims is called Dana Holdings Limited.

Dana also established a program to compensate employees and company retirees who are ill due to asbestos exposure. This fund is much more substantial with $780 million in funding. Former Dana (Canada Corp.) employees seeking compensation from this fund should not require a lawyer. The HR Department at any of the Canadian plant locations should be able to able to assist with providing application forms for the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA).

If you or a loved one worked with Perfect Circle, Victor Gaskets or Dana Corporation parts for land, air and water vehicles and are now suffering disease or disability as a result, contact us to discuss commencing litigation against Dana. Lawsuits against Dana are not as quickly resolved as claims filed directly with a non-partisan asbestos bankruptcy trust but generally the compensation received is higher.

Consulting Brown Law is always free and carries no obligation. Our goal is to provide the least stressful compensation options for mesothelioma patients and their families and then let you decide.