According to a recent article published by the Los Angeles Times, defendants in mesothelioma lawsuits can now be held liable for what are known as “take-home” asbestos cases. These are cases where a worker was employed at job that exposed him or her to deadly asbestos fibers during his or her shift and then returned home still covered with the toxic materials.
This was a very common occurrence, because the companies that produced and worked with asbestos did not want their workers to know they were being exposed to a toxic substance. Since they were actively trying to hide the fact that asbestos caused malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis and other serious types of respiratory illness, they were not providing the workers with any appropriate safety equipment like protective clothing and respirators.
When the workers can home, they would still be wearing boots and clothes covered in deadly fibers, and other family members would become sick. While it may seem obvious that the defendants who made and used asbestos products should be liable for these take-home asbestos injuries as well, this is not always the case, as our Boston asbestos attorneys can explain.
Essentially, we are dealing with two issues, as these are torts cases where a negligence claim must be established. The standard elements in any negligence case are duty, breach, causation, and damages. The first issue is whether the defendant owed a duty to protect the plaintiff in a take-home asbestos case. Some courts are of the opinion that, since the family member was not an employee of the company, there was no privity between the parties, and there was no duty of due care. There is no question that the company owed a duty to protect its employees.
Even if there is a duty owed, the second question is whether the injury to the child was foreseeable, as the duty of due care only applies to foreseeable injuries to foreseeable persons and property. These companies have argued that there is no duty owed to the children of workers, as they are not foreseeable.
The recent ruling from California held that companies are liable to the victims in take-home asbestos cases. The court held that employers have a duty to use reasonable care to make sure their workers are not carrying home asbestos to their families. This is important, because it is still happening today.
While an employee should be given proper clothing, and be required to shower and leave that equipment at the jobsite, we have seen many cases where property owners are still hiring laborers to dealt with asbestos without telling them about it.
This ruling was based on case in which plaintiff’s uncle worked no less than three nights per week in the 1970s at a manufacturing plant and would come home covered in asbestos dust. He would later develop malignant mesothelioma as a result of the exposure during his childhood and died at the age of 54. He died in 2014, and his family took over the cases in the name of his estate, which is fairly typically in asbestos cases.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Companies can be held liable when workers bring home asbestos dust that sickens others, court rules, December 2, 2016, By Maura Dolan, LA Times
More Blog Entries:
New Effort to Strengthen Asbestos Litigation, June 28, 2016, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog