On December 1, 2016 the California Supreme Court ruled that an employee can sue an employer for the use of asbestos in the workplace. The court ruled unanimously in favor of a San Francisco area victim and a Southern California area victim of asbestos exposure who both died as a result of their asbestos exposure cancer.
The court found an employer liable for damages that would be reasonably foreseeable in the case where an employee carries the asbestos home on his clothing or other work materials and the asbestos exposes a family member and results in the family member becoming sick with an asbestos exposure illness.
This extends employer's liability for asbestos exposure beyond the workplace and into the home. The court also found that the employers have a duty to make warnings or take precautions since they are in a better position to have knowledge of the hazards of the asbestos exposure and reduce the hazards.
The court noted that other states had similar rulings that an employer can be liable for exposing family members to asbestos fibers. The employers disagreed and felt being liable for an asbestos exposure in the employee’s home was taking their liability too far.
The cases involved a nephew who alleged he spent 3 nights a week in his uncle’s home in the 1970’s when his uncle worked on asbestos brake linings for Pnuemo Abex and would return home with his clothes covered in asbestos dust fibers. The court ruled he could file a secondary mesothelioma lawsuit for the mesothelioma he developed in 2014.
In the case of Lynne Haver who developed mesothelioma in 2009, the court also ruled she could sue the employer where her father worked with asbestos products. Her father worked on the railroads and would bring asbestos home on his clothing and body from work resulting in her asbestos exposure from inhalation or swallowing in the 1970’s.
A jury will now have to decide if the employers are legally responsible for these secondary exposure asbestos and mesothelioma lawsuits. There is an ongoing debate in states about whether or not asbestos exposure liability extends to the home.
Recent cases in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Georgia have found in favor of the innocent victim of asbestos exposure in the home. Asbestos exposure has been the only known cause of deadly mesothelioma. It is important to have your case reviewed by experienced mesothelioma lawyers who can leverage the state asbestos laws in your favor.