The article begins with an introduction to Clarence Borel who was employed as an industrial insulation installer in 1936. Borel was exposed to heavy concentrations of asbestos dust. The asbestos products were manufactured by Johns-Manville Corporation among other corporations. Borel died from lung cancer, specifically mesothelioma caused by asbestosis. Asbestosis is a scarring of lung tissue and is believed to have been involved in “10 percent of the deaths among asbestos workers. Asbestosis may not be evident in a victim for ten to thirty years following exposure. Once asbestos fibres are inhaled in the lungs, they remain there and damage the lung tissues. It is a gradual disease and extremely painful. Cigarette smoking seems to increase the risk of lung cancer related to asbestos related exposure. It is estimated that 4 million US workers and consumers have been exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos since the 1940s due to the widespread use of the product. Exposure to asbestos is still prevalent in the US, 1. to 2. 5 million, and it is expected that 35 percent of those with heavy exposure will die from asbestosis and mesothelioma related diseases. The focus of this article is on the actions taken by Johns-Manville, “the largest producer of asbestos fiber in the US. ” The author indicates that it is not clear when Johns-Manville became aware of the danger of working with asbestos. Johns-Manville acted unethically by not providing warnings about the safety of their product at the time the information became available to them.
... Brown, secretary of Johns-Manville, another asbestos company.They tried, and succeeded, in getting a researcher to depict asbestosis as a milder condition ... had to look at the long term effects of asbestos exposure or another way of eliminating future litigation. Had they ... that breathing high levels of asbestos can lead to lung cancer, a chronic lung inflammation called asbestosis, or a cancer of the ...
The company commissioned a study in the early 1930s, that found that asbestosis could be compared to silicosis, which was already recognized as an occupational disease. The legal department of Johns-Manville urged Dr. Lanza, lead researcher on the 1935 study, to change the survey and not dwell on the dangerous aspects of asbestos, giving manufacturers “a break. ” The study, only slightly altered, showed that 106 of the 126 randomly sampled asbestos workers employed three years of more had abnormal lung findings.
The inaction of Johns-Manville to order further tests or invest in research and development to protect their workers was immoral. The act utilitarianism would have wanted to “bring about a desirable or good end. ” Clearly 84% of workers exposed to asbestos with possible lung disease were not in this case “the greatest amount of good over bad for everyone affected” by working with the product. Once it became apparent that asbestos inhalation may be related to these various lung diseases, affected workers or survivors began suing manufacturers of the product.
Additional studies were conducted through the years including an extensive study by the US Public Health Service which indicated there could be an acceptable limit related to the amount of asbestos inhaled. An industry association also advised of a threshold for exposure, but the government and Johns-Manville did not conduct any more large research projects to test the hazards’ of the product. This non-action by both Johns-Manville and the government were acts of immorality. Still in the early 1960s, asbestos-related disease was rising quickly.
Another study concluded a high percentage of workers exposed had been affected by asbestosis. Finally, Johns-Manville affixed the first warning labelson their products with an advisory to wear mine approved respirators when adequate ventilation was not available. Johns-Manville defended this action and that further warning was not necessary and the company had done their due diligence by “informing the people. ” At this point in time it could be argued that Johns-Manville acted in the universal ethical egoist manner.
By providing a warning, Johns-Manville supported that “everyone should act in their own self-interest, regardless of the interest of others”. In other words, according to Johns-Manville, they were aware their product could be hazardous but it was not about to monitor the usage of the product by the consumer no more than an aspirin company would go into the home of a consumer to monitor the use of their product. Clarence Borel sued Johns-Manville after becoming ill. He maintained that Johns-Manville should conducted further testing to determine the hazards involved.
INTRODUCTION The Twentieth Century was profoundly affected by the innovations of Henry Ford. The invention of the automobile gave opportunities to multitudes of people. These opportunities were not just in transportation, but in occupation as well. Today, no matter where a Ford is produced, the consumer knows that they are receiving a high quality product. The reason for this is that the majority ...
Johns-Manville argued that Borel’s own company should have provided the necessary warnings and provided him with a respirator. Borel was offered a respirator years after starting work for the company and he had already been exposed. When he did have one offered to him, it was uncomfortable and ill fitted. Borel also contended that the respirator did not keep the dust out. Borel’s estate won the suit with the decision held up by a federal appeals court. Borel’s lawsuit was the first of thousands.
Class action suits against Johns-Manville began and the average cost to settle was $40,000. In 1982, 15,000 workers had sued JM and another 500 lawsuits were being filed every month. On August 26, 1982, the financially healthy Johns-Manville filed for protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, asking that the corporation be allowed to reorganize while still operating. Johns-Manville argued that this was necessary to allow the company to deal with all of the lawsuits, a step that was unprecedented for a stable and profit making corporation.
An argument could be made that Johns-Manville acted in an ethical manner by filing Chapter 11, knowing it would temporarily halt the lawsuits against them and change how the cases would be dealt with in the future. Johns-Manville acted this time in a rule-nonconsequentialist manner by invoking Kant’s practical imperative. By halting the current law suits, changing courts (from federal to state then to bankruptcy court) and the variety of outcomes concluded in court to date, restructuring would give Johns-Manville a way to give their victims of asbestos inhalation “equal treatment” and allow them to be treated fairly.
In conclusion, the actions of the Johns-Manville corporation were by and large immoral based on the millions of people affected with various lung diseases and that will still be affected in the future from past exposure. The company was aware ten years after incorporation that there could be serious dangers related to exposure (based on questions raised by insurance companies) but they choose not to act on these warnings, thereby not fulfilling their prima facie duties, as Sir David Ross might have advocated but rather out of malfeasance and greed.
The Influence of Marshall s Court The Supreme Court, under John Marshall, had a great influence on the development of the powers of our present day government. John Marshall s court was responsible for greatly increasing the powers of the Supreme Court and the Federal Government. The Supreme Court of the early 1800 s was nothing like it is today. The early Supreme Court didn t seem like it fit in ...