Written By: Robert King, Esq.
Legal Review By: Sandy Fazili, Esq.
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General Motors Asbestos Lawsuit Overview

General Motors continues to face a growing number of asbestos lawsuits after manufacturing and selling asbestos-containing products for several decades. Victims seek to hold the company responsible for exposing them to asbestos despite knowing the risks. Asbestos litigation is a big reason GM filed for bankruptcy in 2009. The company set up an asbestos trust fund in 2012 with $625 million in funding to compensate eligible victims. 

If you worked at GM and developed an asbestos illness, you may be entitled to a lawsuit. You may also be eligible if you had a loved one who passed away from an asbestos illness due to exposure at General Motors. By filing a lawsuit, you could recover compensation to help with lost wages, medical bills, funeral costs, and other expenses related to an asbestos injury or death.

General Motors Asbestos Lawsuit – 2024 Update

General Motors has paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation to asbestos victims and their families. Individuals may seek compensation for asbestos illnesses connected to working at GM or for exposure to asbestos-containing products manufactured by GM. Some victims have also suffered from secondhand exposure when other members of their household brought home asbestos from working at GM or with GM products.

  • 2015: GM named in workers’ compensation claim when widow sought compensation after her husband died from asbestos-related lung cancer after years of working at GM and handling asbestos-containing products.
  • 2012: Asbestos trust fund set up with $625 million in funding. 
  • 2009: GM filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with $173 billion in debt and transferred assets to “the new GM,” a new entity for the company to continue operations. 
  • 2006: Widow files complaint after her husband died from mesothelioma likely related to secondhand exposure to asbestos dust from his father and brother who worked at GM.
  • 2002: Victim files complaint against GM and other manufacturers for work-related asbestos exposure that contributed to his diagnosis of pleural plaques-asbestosis.
  • 2002: Widow sues GM after her husband died from mesothelioma and spent years replacing GM-manufactured brakes containing chrysotile asbestos
  • 2000: Railroad workers and their families sue GM for asbestos injuries related to asbestos-containing locomotive parts. 
  • 1999: Children file a lawsuit against GM after their father died from mesothelioma after working at a railroad company from 1941 through 1983 and was exposed to asbestos through GM-manufactured locomotives.

Keep in mind: These are just a small portion of legal filings that have involved General Motors. The growing number of victims seeking to hold GM responsible for wrongful exposure ultimately contributed to the company’s bankruptcy. However, they quickly emerged from bankruptcy within the same year and established an asbestos trust fund to handle the mounting claims.

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About the General Motors Company

General Motors’ story started in 1886 when William C. Durant and Josiah Dallas Dort made a horse-drawn carriage company called Flint Road Cart Company. It then became Durant-Dort Carriage Company and was one of the largest carriage manufacturers in the world. In 1904, Durant took over Buick Motor Co. and his success propelled the creation of General Motors in 1908. Chevrolet was founded three years later and each project continued to set records in the automobile manufacturing industry. Durant left GM in 1921 but the company has continued to grow into “the largest industrial company in the world.”

GM’s headquarters are located in Detroit, Michigan with a presence in six continents with operations across 22 different time zones. The company employs more than 165,000 people and prides itself on a diverse workforce. Despite the number of asbestos lawsuits GM has faced, the company continues to grow and manage a successful worldwide presence.

Types of General Motors Manufacturing Facilities

General Motors currently has 155 facilities in the United States, including: 

  • 15 assembly plants
  • 24 stamping, propulsion, component, and battery plants 
  • 21 parts distribution centers 
  • 2 engineering campuses 
  • Additional office locations for IT centers, call centers, and financial service centers 

GM has more than 91,000 employees in the United States and over 165,000 employees worldwide. It has facilities in 27 of the 50 states and is a major employer for Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Texas. Furthermore, there are more than 4,000 GM dealers in the United States as of January 2024.

Asbestos Exposure in General Motors Plants

General Motors manufactured a range of asbestos-containing products from the 1920s until the late 1970s. Asbestos was used in automotive components because it offered durability, heat resistance, and fire resistance. 

There are various ways individuals could be exposed to asbestos through GM products. GM workers could be exposed when working with automobiles and parts that contain asbestos. Railroad workers, mechanics, and other automotive workers could also be exposed when using GM-manufactured products in their work. GM also supported war efforts and “remains the largest commercial provider of military vehicles in history,” putting veterans at risk of harmful exposure.

General Motors Asbestos Products

Whenever asbestos is disturbed, such as when these products are damaged or worn, its needle-like fibers are susceptible to inhalation or ingestion. Then, they can lodge in the organs’ delicate linings, cause irritation, and lead to tumor development. Examples of GM-manufactured asbestos products include: 

  • Brake drums
  • Brake linings 
  • Brake shoes 
  • Clutch linings 
  • Delco-Heat boilers 
  • Disc brakes 
  • Engines
  • Frigidaire appliances 
  • Gaskets 
  • Hood liner sheets
  • Injection-molded plastics 
  • Insulation
  • Locomotive boilers
  • Locomotive brake shoes 
  • Locomotive insulation and construction
  • Locomotive pipe coverings 
  • Manual transmissions
  • Military equipment 
  • Spark plugs 
  • Valves

Products manufactured between 1920 and 1980 have the highest risk of containing asbestos. However, some products, such as engine gaskets and brakes, continued to have asbestos until around 1997 and 1998. Plant workers, assembly workers, and mechanics using these GM products faced the highest risk of exposure as they directly handled asbestos-containing products.

General Motors Workers at Risk of Asbestos Exposure

There is a wide range of individuals at risk of exposure to asbestos from General Motors products, including: 

  • Aircraft mechanics
  • Appliance installers and maintenance workers 
  • Auto mechanics 
  • Car owners who do their own repairs and maintenance  
  • Consumers of GM products 
  • Delco-Heat boilermakers 
  • Engineers
  • HVAC workers 
  • Industrial workers 
  • GM assembly workers 
  • GM product distributors 
  • GM plant workers 
  • GM mechanics 
  • Machinists 
  • Military veterans 
  • Pipefitters 
  • Railroad workers 
  • Shipyard workers 

Family members of GM workers and all of these occupations also risk asbestos exposure and illnesses. For example, some cases involve mesothelioma victims who had family members who worked at GM and came home with asbestos dust on their clothing. Anyone who came in contact with the dust, whether through laundry or close proximity, could easily ingest or inhale the fibers.

Types of Asbestos and Mesothelioma Claims

There are two main types of asbestos and mesothelioma lawsuits

  1. Personal injury: Filed by the victim who has been exposed to asbestos and developed a related illness like asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma. This type of claim can help individuals cover lost wages, medical bills, treatment costs, and more. 
  2. Wrongful death: Filed by a family member who lost a loved one to an asbestos illness after they were exposed to the carcinogen. This type of claim can help families with loss of household income, outstanding medical bills, end-of-life care fees, funeral costs, and more. 

Class action lawsuits and multidistrict litigation (MDLs) are also options for asbestos claims in certain circumstances, though they often result in much less compensation than personal lawsuits. Plus, you’ll receive personalized representation that focuses on your unique circumstances. 

Depending on the details of your case and who you deem responsible for wrongful exposure in the workplace, you may be advised to file a trust fund claim. Asbestos trust funds are generally set up by bankrupt companies to ensure they can continue paying claims brought against them. It’s crucial to reach out to an experienced asbestos attorney to determine what your options are.

Eligibility for Mesothelioma Compensation for GM Employees

To be eligible for a General Motors asbestos claim, you typically must meet the following requirements: 

  • You were exposed to asbestos from GM and developed a related illness like mesothelioma, asbestosis, or asbestos lung cancer (for personal injury claims). 
  • You lost a loved one to a related illness after they were exposed to asbestos from GM (for wrongful death claims). 
  • You have documented proof of the exposure, related diagnosis, and related death for wrongful death claims. 
  • You have substantial evidence like work records, coworker testimonies, medical records, financial records showing economic damages, etc. 

Experienced asbestos lawyers can help pinpoint potential sources of exposure if you’re unsure. However, any evidence you have connecting your exposure to the party you deem responsible will help support a successful outcome.

Statute of Limitations on Asbestos Claims for GM Workers

There is a deadline by which you must file an asbestos claim to be eligible for compensation. This deadline is referred to as a statute of limitations and varies based on the claim type (wrongful death or personal injury) and the state in which you file. Statutes often range from two to five years from the date of diagnosis or the date of death. Some circumstances can shorten or extend your deadline, so make sure you consult with an attorney as soon as possible to file in a timely manner and maintain your eligibility. 

And if you end up filing a veteran’s benefits claim (VA claim) or asbestos trust fund claim, those also have their own deadlines to consider.

Asbestos Lawsuit Settlement Amounts for General Motors Workers

Asbestos settlement or trial verdict payout amounts vary on a case-by-case basis. However, here are some key facts to consider: 

  • Settlements tend to range from $1 million-$1.4 million, on average 
  • Successful verdicts tend to range from $5 million-$11.4 million 
  • Duration of exposure, extent of exposure, type of illness, severity of illness, and number of responsible parties can influence payout amounts 
  • Verdicts can take longer and risk earning no compensation 
  • Asbestos trust fund claims often have fixed percentages assigned to different “levels” of illnesses

At King Law, we are dedicated to getting you every penny you’re entitled to. If you’re unsure of what type of claim to file and how much you could earn, reach out to us today and we can review the details of your case to provide a personalized recommendation and overview of what to expect.

General Motors Asbestos Trust Funds

General Motors established a trust fund after it filed bankruptcy in 2009 and claimed an estimated $627 million in asbestos liability. During bankruptcy filings, GM sold its remaining assets to NGMCO, Inc., forming “the new GM” while “the old GM” was named Motors Liquidation Company and split into four trusts. The MLC Asbestos Personal Injury Trust was originally funded with $625 million and began accepting claims in 2012. 

MLC asbestos trust payout percentages are subject to change. The most recent adjustment occurred in August 2022 and set payments at 12.2%. Scheduled, average, and maximum payout volumes differ based on occupation and disease level. For example, auto mechanic mesothelioma claims have a maximum value of $525,000 and other mesothelioma claims have a maximum value of $200,000. 

A report noting the trust’s status, as of December 31, 2021, revealed that the trust had: 

  • Received 64,124 unliquidated claims 
  • Paid out a total of 13,896 claims since the date of inception 
  • Paid approximately $85.4 million to asbestos victims in an unliquidated claims settlement 
  • 5,134 unliquidated claims were received during 2021 with 2,267 paid out (1,273 were malignancy claims and 994 were non-malignancy claims)
  • Around $10.9 million was paid to asbestos victims in 2021 for an unliquidated claims settlement

How to File a General Motors Asbestos Lawsuit

There are some steps you typically must take to file a General Motors asbestos lawsuit, including: 

  1. Contact a law firm experienced in handling asbestos cases as soon as possible after an asbestos-related diagnosis or death. 
  2. Consult with an attorney to confirm the eligibility of your case and begin the claim-filing process. 
  3. Gather all required documentation, such as employment history, medical records, treatment bills, cause of death records, and any other appropriate evidence to support your case. 
  4. Your attorney will help you determine what party or parties you deem responsible for the wrongful exposure, and will build and file your claim in the appropriate court. 
  5. Follow your attorney’s guidance when it comes to pursuing a settlement, going to trial, or pursuing a different type of claim like a VA claim or trust fund claim. 

In many scenarios, mesothelioma cases will settle before going to court. Your attorney will be able to negotiate on your behalf and handle all aspects of your claim so you can focus on your treatment or recovery after the death of a loved one. Ideally, you will receive compensation that can be used for medical bills, transportation costs to receive treatment, funeral costs, lost wages, and other damages related to an asbestos-related diagnosis or death.

Contact a General Motors Asbestos Lawyer

If you’ve been impacted by an asbestos-related disease or death, seek help by contacting an asbestos attorney. At King Law, we have years of experience handling wrongful exposure cases. With an unrivaled level of expertise and compassion, we will fight on your behalf to get you the justice and compensation you deserve. Rest assured that we will guide you through the entire process and take as much of the burden off of your shoulders as possible. Reach out today to schedule a no-obligation consultation. 

Do you have questions related to General Motors asbestos exposure? Whether you’re curious about your eligibility or want to understand more about your compensation potential, we’re here to help. Contact King Law to schedule a consultation. 

Call us: (585) 460-2193
Visit us: 650 Clinton Square, Rochester, NY 14604
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Learn more about General Motors, asbestos, and filing a claim by reviewing the following answers to frequently asked questions:

What is the General Motors asbestos lawsuit about?
Thousands of individuals have been impacted by asbestos exposure at General Motors or from GM-manufactured products. They are now filing lawsuits against GM after developing asbestos-related illnesses or after losing a loved one to an asbestos-related disease.
When did GM stop using asbestos?
Asbestos use largely stopped in the early 1980s, including in GM products. However, asbestos use continued in some products through the 1990s and historical uses are still exposing people today.
What percentage does General Motors pay for asbestos trust?
The Motors Liquidation Company Asbestos Personal Injury Trust has a current payment percentage of 12.2% that is subject to change.
How was asbestos used at General Motors manufacturing facilities?
Asbestos was used in General Motors products, including brake parts, engines, clutch linings, and various other automotive parts. It was also used in their diesel locomotives, military vehicles, and appliances with their subsidiaries.
What are the health risks associated with asbestos exposure at General Motors plants?
Individuals exposed to asbestos at General Motors risk a range of respiratory problems and life-threatening illnesses, including lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis, pleural plaques, and other cancers and pleural diseases.
What changes in regulations and safety have been implemented regarding asbestos at General Motors?
There was a partial ban of most asbestos-containing products and new uses of asbestos in 1989. This limited the use of asbestos in automotive products. However, a full ban was not enacted until March 2024.
What asbestos-containing materials and equipment were used in General Motors facilities?
General Motors automotive parts, boilers, and other appliances contained asbestos. Examples include brake linings, clutch linings, engines, boilers, and other items that face high friction, heat, and wear.
Who are the General Motors employees most at risk for asbestos exposure?
General Motors employees who handled asbestos-containing parts face the highest risk of exposure, including assembly and plant workers, mechanics, and engineers.
What types of asbestos lawsuits can General Motors workers file?
General Motors workers may be able to file a personal injury claim if they developed an asbestos-related disease. Workers’ family members may also be able to file if a loved one died from an asbestos-related illness after exposure at General Motors.
What are the requirements for General Motors employees to be eligible for mesothelioma compensation?
To be eligible for mesothelioma compensation, General Motors employees must have proof that they worked at GM, were exposed to asbestos, and developed mesothelioma cancer.

What are the statutes of limitations on mesothelioma claims for General Motors employees?
Statutes of limitations for General Motors employees depend on the type of claim and state in which they file. They’re often around two to three years after the date of diagnosis.
What are the average settlements for General Motors asbestos lawsuits?
Settlements may average around $1 million-$1.4 million for asbestos lawsuits. Payouts may be higher or lower depending on the specifics of the case.
What is the process for General Motors employees to file a mesothelioma lawsuit?
General Motors employees should schedule a consultation with an asbestos attorney and begin gathering evidence if they are interested in filing an asbestos claim.
What were the main sources of asbestos exposure in General Motors manufacturing plants?
The main sources of asbestos exposure at GM plants are through asbestos-containing automotive parts like brake linings, clutch linings, engines, and other products susceptible to friction and heat.
What types of plants does General Motors operate?
General Motors has assembly, stamping, propulsion, component, and battery plants, as well as distribution centers, engineering campuses, IT centers, call centers, and financial service centers.