Back in 2012, the courts dealt a blow to those family members of asbestos workers who acquired asbestos-related conditions through second-hand exposures.
The case arose from a lawsuit filed against Ford Motor Company after a woman alleged that her mesothelioma diagnosis was due to secondary exposure from washing her male relatives’ work clothes four decades prior.
While she was initially victorious with a jury award, the decision was reversed on appeal. The reason given was that the auto manufacturer owed no duty of care to the woman.
Secondary asbestos exposure cases are undoubtedly tougher to prevail in court than cases where the plaintiff was an employee of the defendant company. However, there are plenty of legal precedents where plaintiffs received settlements and judgments in secondary asbestos exposure cases.
The results of this plaintiff’s appeal are not encouraging for secondary exposure plaintiffs, but each case is different and must be weighed on its own merits. If you contracted asbestosis or mesothelioma due to a secondary exposure from close proximity to an asbestos worker, or the worker’s clothing, you may wish to speak to an asbestos attorney who can advise you whether or not you have grounds to file suit.
Battling mesothelioma is tough. Getting a settlement from the liable parties can make the time you have left a little bit easier and ease the burden of costly medical bills for treatments. There are even trust funds already established to provide financial relief to those with diagnoses related to years of working around the carcinogen or sharing living quarters with those who did.
Source: International Risk Management Institute, “No Duty To Protect Worker Family Members from Secondary Asbestos Exposure,” Kent Holland, accessed Feb. 10, 2017