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Arizona Supreme Court Assesses Liability for Second Hand Asbestos Exposure

Recently, the Arizona Supreme Court had the task of deciding whether employers can be held liable to someone who contracted cancer from asbestos brought home on a parent’s work clothes. According to KTAR News, Phoenix, the case stemmed from the 2014 death of the son of a metal company worker whose 2013 negligence lawsuit claimed he was exposed to asbestos from his father’s work clothes. The suit argued that the metal company “was legally obligated to avoid creating hazardous conditions that would injure people off its property.”

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) says, “there is some evidence that family members of workers heavily exposed to asbestos face an increased risk of developing mesothelioma.” Second hand exposure occurs when workers exposed to asbestos carry asbestos fibers home on the shoes, clothing, skin, and hair. To decrease these exposures, companies are required, by Federal law, to protect workers by creating and enforcing safety rules that limit the possibility of asbestos being brought home.

“Some employees may be required to shower and change their clothes before they leave work,” says the NCI “or store their street clothes in a separate area of the workplace, or wash their work clothes at home separately from other clothes.”

Not too long ago, an 89 year-old woman was awarded $1.1 million in a second hand asbestos exposure case involving 13 defendants and her husband who brought asbestos home from work on his clothes, skin, and hair. The woman, who was eventually diagnosed with mesothelioma, was exposed through washing her husband’s asbestos-laden clothes, and engaging in normal everyday activities such as touching and hugging her husband of over 70 years.

At the time of the verdict, the husband, who had unknowingly exposed his wife to asbestos, showed no signs of mesothelioma. It was unknown whether his wife would live for a few months or a few years.

Verdicts such as this are momentous, because not only do they hold companies responsible for exposing workers to asbestos, they are helping expand liability to include family members who are exposed to asbestos second hand.

If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor right away. Your doctor can refer you to a mesothelioma specialist who can assess your risk, administer diagnostic tests, and establish a monitoring plan, which can help detect mesothelioma in its earliest and most treatable stages. Talk to your doctor about your risk today.

 

Sources

“Arizona High Court to Rule on Liability for Asbestos Carried Home.” KTAR.com. Bonneville International, 11 May 2018. Web. 03 July 2018.

“Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Risk.” Cancer.gov. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Cancer Institute (NCI), 07 June 2017. Web. 03 July 2018.

“Jury Awards 89 Year-Old Woman $1.1 Million for Second Hand Asbestos Exposure from Husbands Work Clothes.” Bergmanlegal.com. Bergmanlegal.com, n.d. Web. 03 July 2018.