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Family loses appeal in California asbestos exposure case

Last year, surviving family members of a man who died from mesothelioma in 2011 were handed a defeat from the appeals court in another state. They had unsuccessfully argued that they had a cause of action for a wrongful death lawsuit against Ameron International Corp., the company based in Pasadena, California where their deceased relative worked for 24 years. They alleged his asbestos exposure came from manufacturing pipe products.

The deceased man was permitted by his employer to take home scrap pipe to use on home improvement projects, like patio repair and designing flower pots. The survivors allege that his exposure was not limited to on-the-job asbestos exposures, and thus not limited solely to settlements from workers compensation.

But the appellate court saw matters differently, siding with the company and stating the death was related to his job because his receipt of the scrap pipe was directly through his job with the company.

The three-judge panel with California's 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled unanimously to uphold the ruling from the lower court. They determined that the decedent's job with Ameron was the critical factor in the deadly asbestos exposure. The decision read, in part:

"It is undisputed that [his] exposure to asbestos in his employment with Ameron substantially contributed to his mesothelioma. Therefore, under the contributing cause standard applicable in workers' compensation law, his mesothelioma is covered by workers' compensation."

The court determined that the man's home exposure probably contributed to his condition with the workplace exposure. But it fell short of creating "a divisible, separate injury." Thus, his mesothelioma was fully covered under workers' compensation.

Source: Business Insurance, "Comp benefits only remedy for asbestos worker's survivors," Sheena Harrison, accessed April 08, 2016

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