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Is a brake shoe grinder the cause of asbestos exposure?

Up until the late 1980s, asbestos was used in all kinds of materials from insulation to brake pads. This is a well-known fact. However, going back and determining what products were handled in determining the source of asbestos exposure can be difficult. In order to figure that out, it may take some significant legal assistance. Recently, victims of asbestosis were able to reinstate their lawsuits against a company they claim is responsible for their exposure.

The victims in this case worked as mechanics that used a brake grinding product, manufactured by Hennessy Industries, to grind down brake shoe linings. The asbestos was released when the workers would grind the asbestos-containing brake linings. Initially, their claim was dismissed in June 2010 on the basis that Hennessy did not use any asbestos in their products. Therefore, they should not be liable for exposure.

However, the First District Court of Appeal recently reinstated the claims. Their ruling was based on the fact that the grinders were used solely to grind brake linings. They were used properly and therefore, the court ruled, they inevitably caused the release of the asbestos in the brake linings. The victims say that it was due to this exposure that they ultimately developed cancer and asbestosis.

This case is significant because it shows that the makers of asbestos-containing products may not be the only parties held responsible for the tragic illnesses caused by asbestos. In this case, it is possible that the manufacturer of a product that contains no asbestos, but is designed to unavoidably release the toxic fiber, may be held accountable.

As mentioned, it can be complex and difficult to track down the source of asbestos exposure. However, proving the source of asbestos can help victims collect not only compensation for their illnesses, but answers as well.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Court rules asbestos victims can sue machine maker," Bob Egelko, May 8, 2012

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