asbestos mesothelioma

Products Liability: Take-Home Exposure

By on April 6, 2015 - Comments off

Kesner v. Superior Court, (First District, May 15, 2014) 2014 WL 1962217, — Cal.Rptr.3d —-, 14 Cal.Daily Op. Serv. 5376, 2014 Daily Journal D.A.R. 6110

A man who contracted mesothelioma filed suit against his uncle’s employer, a brake lining manufacturer, alleging that his disease was caused by exposure to asbestos which his uncle brought home from work on his clothing. Asserting theories of products liability, including negligence, breach of express and implied warranties, and strict products liability, the plaintiff alleged that over a period of several years he was a frequent guest in his uncle’s home, and often spent the night there, and that the uncle would come home in his work clothes covered in asbestos dust. The plaintiff further alleged that his uncle would often play with him and sometimes sleep near him while still in his work clothes, and that his exposure to the asbestos dust was a contributing cause of his disease.

Relying on Campbell v. Ford Motor Co. (2012) 206 Cal.App.4th 15, the trial court granted the manufacturer’s motion for a nonsuit,  finding that there was no duty to the plaintiff for any exposure to asbestos through contact with an employee, as none of the exposures took place at or inside the defendant’s plant.  However, the court of appeal reversed, holding that under the circumstances a duty of care did extend to members of the employee’s household who were likely to be affected by toxic materials brought home on the worker’s clothing: Read the rest »


Punitive Damages: Conflict of Laws

By on February 9, 2015 - Comments off

Scott v. Ford Motor Company, (First District, March 26, 2014 | Certified for Partial Publication) 2014 WL 1244358 — Cal.Rptr.3d —-                 

A former owner and operator of multiple service stations filed an action against Ford Motor Company, alleging that exposure to asbestos while servicing brakes and clutches supplied by Ford had caused him to develop mesothelioma. The plaintiff asserted various products liability theories, including failure to warn, design defect, and negligence, as well as fraud.   

When the plaintiff attempted to introduce Ford’s annual report to support his claim for punitive damages, Ford argued that the trial court should apply Michigan law, which unlike California, does not permit punitive damages unless specifically authorized by statute. Using a government interest analysis, the trial court agreed with Ford, and concluded that  Michigan’s interest as embodied in its prohibition of punitive damages would be more impaired if its law were not applied under the circumstances than would California’s interest in allowing a claim for punitive damages. The court ruled the annual report inadmissible and precluded the claim for punitive damages.

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Products Liability: Noerr-Pennington Doctorine

By on June 25, 2014 - Comments off

Hernandez v. Amcord (2013) 215 Cal.App.4th 659, 156 Cal.Rptr.3d 90

A man who was diagnosed with mesothelioma brought a products liability action against the manufacturer of a plastic cement which contained asbestos. The plaintiff alleged that while working as a carpenter and in the construction industry his exposure to asbestos in the product was a substantial factor contributing to his risk of developing cancer.  At trial the plaintiffs sought to introduce evidence of the defendant’s government lobbying activities, and that the defendant had successfully lobbied for an exemption to a ban on asbestos spray construction products. Read the rest »


Duty To Warn: Sophisticated User

By on April 14, 2014 - Comments off

Webb v. Special Electric Company, Inc. (2013) 214 Cal.App.4th 595, 153 Cal.Rptr.3d 882

A man who allegedly contracted mesothelioma as a result of working for many years around pipe containing asbestos, filed a product liability action against Johns-Manville, the pipe manufacturer, as well as Special Electric, a company which supplied bags of asbestos to Johns-Manville. The plaintiff contended that both defendants were liable for failing to warn of the risk of injury and disease presented by the use and handling of asbestos.

A jury rendered a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, finding that Special Electric had failed to adequately warn consumers of its products’ potential risks, and assessed 49% fault to the manufacturer and 18% to Special Electric. The trial court granted judgment notwithstanding the verdict, and entered judgment in favor of Special Electric, relying on the rule that sophisticated users of dangerous products need not be warned about dangers of which they are already aware. The court found that as a matter of law, the supplier had no duty to warn Johns-Manville because it was already aware that asbestos was a dangerous product. However, the court of appeal reversed, holding that the trial court’s finding that the supplier had discharged its duty was unsupported by the record: Read the rest »


Products Liability: Punitive Damages

By on February 22, 2011 - Comments off

Stewart v. Union Carbide Corporation (Second District, November 16, 2010) 190 Cal.App.4th 23, 117 Cal.Rptr.3d 791, 10 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 14,363, 2010 Daily Journal D.A.R. 17,352

A plumber and his wife filed a products liability action against Union Carbide, an asbestos manufacturer, alleging that he had contracted mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos in products used on commercial and residential construction projects. The plaintiffs further alleged that Union Carbide had been aware of the dangers of asbestos but had failed to adequately warn customers who purchased asbestos for use in their products, and had responded to their questions by downplaying concerns.

Following a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, which included an award for punitive damages, the Defendant appealed, contending that the evidence showed that it had an “honest conviction” that the use of its product was safe when appropriate precautions were taken. However, the court of appeal affirmed the verdict, stating: Read the rest »


Products Liability: Replacement Parts

By on November 19, 2009 - Comments off

O’Neil v. Crane Co., (Second District, September 18, 2009), 99 Cal.Rptr.3d 533, 09 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 12,021, 2009 Daily Journal D.A.R. 13,945

The widow and children of a naval officer who died of mesothelioma as a result of being exposed to asbestos while working on an aircraft carrier, filed a wrongful death action against the manufacturers of valves and pumps which contained asbestos and which had been installed on naval vessels. The plaintiffs alleged that the decedent had been exposed to asbestos-containing insulation and packing material in the pumps, which released toxic fibers during routine use of the products when the packing was replaced.

The defendants filed a motion for non-suit, arguing, inter alia, that at the time of the decedent’s exposure, the original asbestos-containing parts had been replaced with new parts, and that the plaintiffs had not attempted to prove that the replacement insulation and packing had been purchased from the defendants.

The trial court granted the motion for non-suit but the court of appeal reversed, holding that under the circumstances, the manufacturers could still be liable even if the original components had been replaced: Read the rest »


Products Liability: Replacement Parts

By on March 24, 2009 - Comments off

Taylor v. Elliott Turbomachinery Co., Inc., (1st District, February 25, 2009), 171 Cal.App.4th 564, 90 Cal.Rptr.3d 414, 09 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 2395, 2009 Daily Journal D.A.R. 2930

A former U.S. Navy sailor who had worked aboard the U.S.S. Hornet in the mid-1960s, filed an action against several manufacturers of equipment used in the ship’s propulsion system. The plaintiff contended that he had contracted mesothelioma as a result of his exposure to asbestos-containing parts contained within various metal valves and other components which he had serviced. Although the equipment had been installed in 1943 and all the asbestos-containing parts had been removed and replaced with parts made by manufacturers other than the defendants, the plaintiff contended that the original manufacturers had a duty to warn of the hazards arising from the foreseeable use of their products, as well as hazards arising from the combination of their product and products manufactured by others.

The trial court granted the manufacturers motion for summary judgment and the court of appeal affirmed, holding that the defendants owed the plaintiff no duty to warn of the dangers inherent in asbestos-containing products supplied by other manufacturers:

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