Earlier this month, the Supreme Court allowed a lawsuit to proceed that was filed nine years ago against Halliburton, one of the world’s largest energy industry companies. In 1995, Halliburton sought to expand by buying the Harbinson-Walker Division of Dresser Industries, another energy company.  It was only after buying the company that Halliburton discovered Dresser was under the pressure of many pending lawsuits all dealing with asbestos-related illnesses stemming from work on oil rigs during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. Harbison-Walker is one of many companies that marketed asbestos products that were used in the drilling mud of offshore rigs. This malignant chemical was a favorite of the drilling industry because of its fire-resistant properties as well as its bonding capabilities. Workers mixed asbestos-containing products and even pure asbestos in with the drilling mud to keep their drill bits cool as late as 1989, unaware that the white, flaky substance they were using would haunt them years after they left the rigs. While useful in industry, asbestos is deadly for workers. When inhaled, small fibers break off and become trapped in the lungs, causing:

  • Lung irritation and scarring
  • Asbestosis
  • Lung Cancer
  • Mesothelioma

Though asbestos inhalation can be fatal, its effects do not surface until years or decades later. When Halliburton bought Harbison-Walker in 1998, it inherited all of its asbestos liability for emerging asbestos cases. The next year, shareholders filed a class-action suit against Halliburton claiming it had misled investigators about its asbestos liability and deceived its shareholders. After years of debating whether the shareholders had to provide proof of their claims before continuing with litigation, the Supreme Court has finally given them the OK to proceed, though it remains to be seen if Halliburton will have to pay for the misdeeds of Harbison-Walker. If you or a loved one worked with drilling mud on an oil rig from the 1960s through the late 1980s and suffer the ill effects of asbestos exposure, please contact the experienced Mobile, Alabama, asbestos attorneys at Long & Long, for a free case consultation.

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