One of the most frustrating aspects of dealing with an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma, can be determining who is responsible for contact with the dangerous product. In many cases, it can be argued that an employer has been negligent for allowing workers to come in contact with asbestos without proper warnings. But what about the manufacturer of a product that is designed to come into contact with asbestos? Should that party be held liable as well?
That is precisely the issue that came up in a recent lawsuit. After years of working with tools that came into contact with asbestos, one man developed cancer. In the suit, the man and his wife sued the manufacturer of a product that was designed to filter out asbestos. The company, however, argued that they should not be held responsible for warning users of their products, since they are not the ones who made the asbestos.
The product in question is a respirator that filters out asbestos. The man worked in a shipyard and was tasked with cleaning tools used by other workers on the site. The respirator was handled without any warnings from the makers of the respirator. As a result, the man came into toxic contact with the asbestos regularly.
Because their product did not contain asbestos, the makers of the respirator did not believe it was their responsibility to warn users of the dangers of working with the fiber. They knew, however, that their product was specifically designed to filter out the substance and were likely aware of the dangers associated with exposure.
A court ruled in favor of the man and his wife. They pointed out that because the product was specifically designed to remove the asbestos, the company had a responsibility to warn users of the hazards associated with exposure.
Sadly, the man passed away while the case was still pending. It is not unusual for asbestos-related diseases to move quickly and aggressively once they are diagnosed. Because of this, it is vital that victims and their families work to secure medical and legal support as soon as possible. Determining the link between a disease and point of exposure is crucial, but can take some time.
Source: KUOW, “Court Rules Manufacturer Responsible For Asbestos Warning,” Ruby deLuna, Aug. 10, 2012