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Illinois court remands secondhand asbestos suit to Madison County

Last month, the Illinois Supreme Court ordered that a lawsuit be remanded back to Madison County, where a judge will be tasked with determining whether the plaintiff's asbestos exposure and eventual mesothelioma diagnosis was foreseeable or not.

The asbestos lawsuit was filed by a woman who alleges that she suffered secondhand asbestos exposure from her father and her husband, both of whom worked with asbestos for several years. Three months after she filed the lawsuit, the woman succumbed to mesothelioma, and the court substituted her daughter to continue the suit on her behalf.

The 'take-home exposure' suit, which named CSX Transportation and 72 other defendant companies, alleges that the plaintiff's husband worked for B&O Railroad from 1958 to 1964. In addition, the plaintiff's father worked with asbestos from 1931 until 1954. Both men brought asbestos home on their clothes, which caused the plaintiff to be exposed secondarily, according to the suit.

CSX, the successor to B&O, moved to dismiss the lawsuit, stating that it had no duty to warn the families of employees of their potential asbestos risk. A Madison County judge agreed, but an appellate court reversed the dismissal. Now, the state supreme court has upheld the appellate court decision, stating that the trial court must determine whether or not the injury was foreseeable.

"Because foreseeability is such an integral factor to the existence of duty and because the weight to be accorded to that foreseeability...depends on the circumstances of the case," the court wrote, "without more detailed pleadings we cannot determine whether...a duty of care ran from defendant to plaintiff in this case."

Source: Legal Newsline, "Secondhand asbestos suit sent back to Madison County," Ann Maher, Mar. 26, 2012

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