When Germany-based chemical company BASF acquired a manufacturing firm nine years ago for $5 billion, it was aware that had been prior product liability cases against the company for asbestos exposure.
The smaller firm had been in the talc-mining business, and as the years wore on, those who worked in the mines, their family members and some in the public began to get sick. Some filed lawsuit once they learned that there was asbestos in the mine, which causes a number of latent diseases, primarily mesothelioma, asbestosis, COPD and lung cancer.
In the early 1980s, the company was sued by an individual who alleged they were harmed by the asbestos in the mines. During the deposition phase of the proceedings, officials with the company conceded there was asbestos in the mines. However, soon after that, before the case could go to trial, the company entered a confidential settlement agreement. The records were sealed. And from that point forward, the line from the company and its legal team was that there was no asbestos in the mines.