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Asbestos exposure sets case in motion

In a recent ruling that may affect asbestos lawsuits in North Carolina, a state court of appeals has deter-mined that a manufacturer may be liable in strict liability for asbestos that was used in another company's product. In most cases, a manufacturer cannot be held liable for damages resulting from asbestos exposure that was caused by another company's product. Using an exception to this rule, the California Court of Appeals reinstated a case brought by a man whose wife allegedly died from exposure to asbestos fibers on his work clothing.

The plaintiff was an auto mechanic who repaired brakes that used pads that contained asbestos. He used a machine made by Hennessy Industries to remove the asbestos brake linings from the brake shoes. His wife died from mesothelioma, and he sued Hennessy for damages, alleging that his wife had been exposed to the asbestos fibers on his work clothing. The trial court dismissed the case, ruling that Hennessy could not be held liable for asbestos in a product (the brake shoes) that were made by another manufacturer.

On appeal, the court of appeals ruled that Hennessy's product was intended to be used with another product - asbestos brake shoes - that created a hazardous situation. The appellate court concluded that Hennessy had a duty to warn of the hazards of airborne asbestos because its product was expressly designed to be used with brake linings containing asbestos and because use of the machine released asbestos fibers into the atmosphere. The court sent the case back to the lower court for trial.

Anyone who has suffered an illness or lost a loved one to an illness caused by exposure to asbestos fibers, such as asbestosis, mesothelioma or lung cancer, may wish to consult a lawyer who specializes in handling such claims. A lawyer who is knowledgeable about asbestos litigation can provide a helpful evaluation of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages from the responsible parties.

Source: Lawyers and Settlements.com, "Manufacturer May Be Liable for Machine Causing Release of Asbestos From Another Company's Product," July 30, 2015

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