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Navy Widows Asbestos Case Among First Heard by Justice Brett Kavanaugh

One of the first cases to be heard by new U.S. Supreme Court Justice    Brett Michael Kavanaugh was an asbestos lawsuit filed by the widows of two Navy sailors. In the suit, the widows claimed that their husbands died of lung cancer following exposure to asbestos-laden equipment used aboard various U.S. Navy vessels and in shipyards.

According to a report Courthouse News, the widows sued more than 50 companies for liability following their husbands’ deaths, claiming the companies’ manufacturing contracts with the Navy made them responsible for the injuries. The companies claim that they cannot be held liable for the injuries “because the asbestos was added to their products by third parties after the point of sale.”

Per a USA Today report, “the companies being sued manufactured the equipment, but the asbestos was added later by companies that are now bankrupt.”

Attorneys for one of the defendants in the Supreme Court case told the justices that “even if the exposure occurred as they widows say it did,” his clients “connection to the toxic goods was only incidental.” Attorneys for the widows said, “this suggestion fails to take into account the manufacturer’s responsibility to warn workers of known or possible hazards associated with the goods.” Because the defendants “knew their products would be used with asbestos insulation, the potential harm from asbestos was easy to foresee,” he said.

Because the alleged injuries occurred at sea, the case falls under maritime law where the Supreme Court is the ultimate authority. Justice Kavanaugh, along with the rest of the Supreme Court, must now decide whether the companies can be held accountable under maritime law for injuries caused by asbestos they did not manufacture, sell or distribute.

If you worked in the military, construction, or in the automotive industry before 1989, you may have been exposed to asbestos. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), “mesotheliomas related to asbestos exposure take a long time to develop.” The time between first exposure to asbestos and diagnosis of mesothelioma is typically “between 20 and 50 years.”

“Unfortunately,” says the ACS, “the risk of mesothelioma does not go down over time after the exposure to asbestos stops,” so “the risk appears to be lifelong.”

If you think you may have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor right away. Even if you do not have any symptoms, a specialist can establish a monitoring plan that could help detect mesothelioma sooner, and when it is in its early stages. Early detection could lead to better treatment options and outcomes, so talk to your doctor today.



Buchman, Brandi. "New justice on the bench: Kavanaugh's first Supreme Court cases." NBC News. NBC Universal, 06 Oct. 2018. Web. 10 Nov. 2018.

“U.S. Federal Bans on Asbestos.” United States Environmental Protection Agency, 17 Jan. 2017. Web. 10 Nov. 2018.

“What Are the Risk Factors for Malignant Mesothelioma?” American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society, Inc., 2018. Web. 10 Nov. 2018.

Williams, Pete. "Supreme Court Weighs Third-Party Liability in Asbestos Case." Courthouse News. Courthouse News Service, 10 Oct. 2018. Web. 10 Nov. 2018.

Wolf, Richard. "Brett Kavanaugh's first cases will include immigration, asbestos exposure and firearms." USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, LLC., 06 Oct. 2018. Web. 10 Nov. 2018.