In 1848, the Pratt & Letchworth Company was established by Samuel F. Pratt, Pascal P. Pratt and William P. Letchworth. The company initially manufactured cast iron hardware for saddles and carriages. Over the next few decades, Pratt & Letchworth diversified its product line to include cast iron hand tools, toys and railroad equipment. By the turn of the 20th Century, castings for railroad equipment became the company’s primary product. In 1923, the Dayton Malleable Iron Company acquired Pratt & Letchworth. Located on Tonawanda Avenue in Buffalo, New York, the Pratt & Letchworth foundry consisted of three buildings on 25 acres of land. During its peak production years, the company employed nearly 1,000 people. In 1981, faced with dramatically reduced demand for railroad equipment, Pratt & Letchworth ceased operations. In 2005, the foundry was demolished.
In order to melt iron and steel, Pratt & Letchworth used electrical arc furnaces. The interiors of the arc furnaces were lined with asbestos-containing refractory materials, which protected the furnace from deteriorating. Asbestos-containing refractory materials resisted high temperatures, but the refractory materials deteriorated after constant use and required replacement. During removal and application processes of refractory materials, asbestos-containing dust and fibers became airborne, which workers inhaled. Workers who handled asbestos materials or worked in the vicinity of others who did are at risk for developing an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Asbestos was also incorporated into numerous materials that covered equipment at Pratt & Letchworth. Pipes, valves and pumps were covered with asbestos-containing insulation. Asbestos gaskets were used to ensure a tight seal between flanges of pumps, valves and pipes. During maintenance and repair procedures, workers removed worn pipe covering or block insulation; scraped gaskets from flanges; and replaced packing material in pumps and valves. These processes released asbestos-containing dust into the air, which workers inhaled.
Our clients understand the importance of securing legal representation as soon as possible after a diagnosis of mesothelioma or lung cancer. If you or a loved one were once employed at Pratt & Letchworth in Buffalo, New York, and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, please contact us regarding your legal rights.