Maremont moved into the Canadian market in 1925, although they did not formally register the Maremont name for use in Canada until 1949. The corporation, based in Chicago, got its start in 1877 manufacturing wagon parts before moving into the automotive market with Ford’s Model T. Exhaust products entered Maremont’s lineup in 1937 and were being mass produced from Maremont’s facility on South Ashland Avenue by 1940.
Maremont now admits to included asbestos in their friction products from 1953 until 1977 and muffler products from 1954 until 1978. These products were sold under many name brands including to do it yourself purchasers through retailers, such as Sears for whom Maremont branded the product Craftsman. Other popular branding included:
- D.D. Silvertip
- Load Guard
- S.S. Metallic
- The Stop Box
- X-T Woven
Maremont and its subsidiary corporations Maremont Exhaust Products, Inc. AVM, Inc. and Former Ride Control Operating Company, Inc. focused on after-market sales to muffler and auto-parts shops. Maremont was a unit of Rockwell International, a major aftermarket parts supplier to the aviation, military and transportation industries.
Rockwell spun off the Maremont brand in 1997 giving it a new corporate owner, Meritor.
Meritor shared the brake, muffler and motion control market with Arvin Industries, whose market share included original equipment to auto makers. Arvin merged with Meritor in 2000, renaming the company ArvinMeritor. Arvin was dropped from the name in 2011.
To add even more confusion into the mix, the global leader in after market friction products, Federal Mogul, purchased the brake division of Maremont but did not assume the asbestos liability of the company.
Meritor has been dealing with lawsuits brought by thousands of individuals harmed by the asbestos that Maremont included in their friction products, motion control (clutches and transmissions) and exhaust products. There were 1900 open claims against the Maremont Corporation and a further 2800 against Maremont Exhaust Products when the companies entered the bankruptcy restructuring process. Meritor has never reported how many claims they settled, or for how much. Cases for auto mechanics diagnosed with mesothelioma went to trial, leading to many judgements against the company, most of which remain unpaid.
Starting in early 2018 Meritor publically worked towards a plan to deal with asbestos claims. They wanted to rid themselves of the problem of defending these claims at great expense, and set up a fund to which all claimants could apply for compensation. This process has been followed many times by companies with high asbestos injury claims going back to 1988 when the Johns-Manville Corporation trust opened after the company declared insolvency in 1982.
It is reported by Meritor that 100% of the claimants who were entitled to vote on the plan proposed by Meritor voted to accept the plan. This puts those claimants who have open claims against any one of the Maremont entities at the front of the queue to have their claims assessed and paid when the asbestos trust opens. The plan was formally accepted and approved by the bankruptcy court July 9, 2019.
The process then turned to the logistics of selecting claims management, getting funding in place and being in a position to receive, review, and pay those suffering as a result of Maremont’s actions. An experienced claims management company has been hired and has moved quickly to incorporate Maremont claims into their service. On October 17, 2019 they announced that the trust will start accepting claims on October 21, 2019. Prior unpaid Judgements will be at the front of the line for settlement.
The asbestos trust owns all the shares of the Maremont Corporation. These company earnings, together with $28 million in funding from Meritor, will pay asbestos claims for many years into the future. It is known that the open claims together with future claimants will be entitled to far more compensation that the trust will have funds to pay and therefore the claims will not be paid at full value. The initial payment percentage has been set at 29.1%. This means that after the claim has been valued, only 29.2% of that amount will be paid.
Highlights of the plan are:
- Canadians have rights to compensation equivalent to that of American victims;
- The only presumed occupation is auto mechanic;
- The claims of “Shade Tree” mechanics are paid at a much lower level that those of automobile mechanics, even though the disease level is the same;
- An application fee is being imposed to thwart aggressive law firms from filing claims that don’t meet criteria established by the trust that bog down the processing of valid claims.
We are monitoring the status of the Maremont Asbestos Personal Injury Trust and will update this page as the process unfolds. When the trust opens on October 21, 2019 there will be a significant backlog and it may take some time for this to regulate. The initial payment percentage may also be affected. If you or a loved one worked as an automobile mechanic and is now suffering from mesothelioma due in full or in part to working with Maremont aftermarket products, please contact us to get more information about how to be ready to apply to the Maremont compensation fund when it opens on Monday, October 21, 2019.