Nicolet Industries was initially located in Florham Park, New Jersey. In 1960 the company was under the stewardship of president Guy George Gabrielson Jr. A 1960 Industrial Research Laboratories of the United States publication lists Nicolet Industries Inc., as having a laboratory staff of three chemists, one engineer and five support staff for research regarding asbestos fibers, paper, board and insulating materials. This is prior to the purchase of K&M in February of 1962.
A vast portion of Nicolet’s liability stems from the purchase of the Industrial Products Division of the Keasbey & Mattison company, but Nicolet cannot hide behind any shield by professing the company was not aware of the danger of asbestos or had no involvement with asbestos but for the Keasbey & Mattison purchase.
Rarely talked about is the fact that Nicolet Industries owned and operated an Asbestos mine in Norbestos, Quebec. The subsidiary company that technically owned the mine was Nicolet Asbestos Mines, Ltd. and was a Quebec corporation. The province of Quebec has protected the asbestos industry since it became known that asbestos caused serious disease and cancer. One of the ways in which the government protected Nicolet was by ensuring that business records for the mine could not be removed, even as a copy, from the province. It has therefore been difficult to determine where the raw fibre from the Nicolet mine was sent. We can assume that some of it went to Nicolet Industries in New Jersey and made its way into products manufactured by the company. The mine produced raw asbestos fibre from 1939 until the deposit ran out and it closed in 1969.
There is no dispute that Keasbey & Mattison as a subsidiary company of Turner & Newall of Manchester, England was heavily invested in mining asbestos and manufacturing and selling asbestos containing products.
Nicolet purchased one division, being the Industrial Products Division, of K&M in 1962 and continued the business of manufacturing asbestos containing products until they declared bankruptcy in 1987. From 1973 various asbestos containing products that Nicolet made were under fire and banned such as Limpet Spray in 1973 and continuously friable asbestos products in 1975.
When Nicolet purchased Keasbey & Mattison they moved their head office to Ambler, PA, now a Philadelphia suburb. Ambler was long considered the asbestos capital of the world by those who did not consider that title should be given to Thetford Mines or Asbestos, Quebec.
KolorMate was a Nicolet product registered in Canada in 1964. It was listed as being an asbestos and cement composition board specifically for use as chalk boards or laboratory countertops. These were installed extensively in schools built in the 1960s across Canada.
Nicolet tried to have the courts excuse them from liability for K&M asbestos products. However, in Gibson v. Armstrong World Industries, Inc. , 648 F. Supp. 1538 (D. Colo. 1986) it was decided that because the Nicolet purchase was substantially all of the assets of K&M’s Industrial Products Division, including the patents, know-how, land, factory and employees including an agreement to continue to market products under the K&M name they were, as the purchasing corporation, found to be strictly liable for injuries caused by asbestos contained in the product line.
Nicolet also attempted to transfer liability back to T&N. At that time T&N had no American branch of the company and therefore the American court system had no jurisdiction over the UK or Canadian companies. Nicolet was not successful in evading liability by that method and eventually organized to pay claims through a bankruptcy trust.
Nicolet’s automotive products including gaskets contained asbestos until 1987. Nicolet filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1987 when they were facing 61,000 asbestos personal injury claims. The aformentioned Gibson decision made it clear that Nicolet was not going to be able to shirk their liability and bankruptcy was the only option.
Armstrong World Industries made the mistake of purchasing Nicolet, again triggering the doctrine of successor corporation liability. Armstrong as an asbestos manufacturer already had its own troubles with personal injury claims and also filed for Chapter 11 protection in December 2000.
An asbestos trust has been established by Armstrong World Industries to pay current and future asbestos claims, including for Nicolet liability. The compensation trust opened in May 2007.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma from exposure to Nicolet, K&M or Armstrong products contact us to commence a claim for compensation.