Asbestos-related injuries and fatalities are among the most complicated, and expensive, forms of litigation in the history of the United States. Such litigation has gone through a number of changes over the years, and the courts continue to grapple with the law surrounding these cases.
Last month, a federal judge in Louisiana issued a ruling which legal commentators are saying will further complicate asbestos litigation, at least in one aspect. The case dealt with the liability of manufacturers who produced “bare metal” components which were later covered in asbestos or otherwise used with other asbestos-containing products in industrial settings.
Manufacturers of this “bare metal” previously argued that they were not liable for exposure to asbestos fibers that were added to their products later on, that they don’t have a legal duty to warn about products they don’t manufacture or own. Some courts have held to this view, while other courts have held that manufacturers do have a duty to warn about potential asbestos exposure when their own products cannot function properly without the asbestos that will be used to cover them.
The federal decision last month took a slightly different approach. The court held that manufacturers of metal products may be liable for asbestos exposure for negligently recommending asbestos use along with their products. In other words, the court requires that plaintiffs show that the manufacturer did something more than make a product that could be used with asbestos.
In our next post, we’ll look at some of the implications of this ruling, and why it is critical to work with an experienced advocate when pursuing asbestos litigation.
Cook County Record, “‘Third view’ of bare metal defense could complicate asbestos litigation,” Joe Dyton, Nov. 11, 2016.
RAND Institute for Civil Justice, Asbestos Litigation, 2005.