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Delaware Supreme Court helps secondary asbestos exposure victims

Across the country, the rights of mesothelioma victims have been under attack. This is particularly true of people who were exposed to asbestos indirectly, usually through the clothes of a loved one. Asbestos fibers are small, and easily cling to hair, clothes and boots. When a worker gets home covered in asbestos dust, spouses, children and anyone who comes in contact is at risk of inhaling asbestos fibers. Spouses who wash clothes are particularly at risk for repeated exposure.

In May, Arizona became one of over a dozen states that preclude victims of secondhand asbestos exposure from getting help with medical expenses for asbestos-related illnesses.

It was a worrying decision by the Arizona Supreme Court. Fortunately, not every court faced with this legal issue has decided similarly.

Delaware reverses course, supports mesothelioma victims’ rights

On Wednesday, July 27, the Delaware Supreme Court reversed a long-standing precedent and found that a spouse who was exposed to asbestos through her husband’s work clothes could file a claim against the manufacturers who supplied the deadly carcinogen.

In the unanimous ruling, the judges pointed out that immediate family members of workers exposed to asbestos are “foreseeable plaintiffs” in mesothelioma litigation. The posure poses is well-documented. Scientific literature dating back decades has noted the danger of secondhand asbestos exposure.

The ruling came about through Dorothy Ramsey, who died of lung cancer in 2015. Her estate brought the suit. Dorothy was exposed to asbestos because she washed the asbestos-contaminated clothes of her husband, who worked as a pipefitter.

As the court said in its decision, “Workers often have family members who launder their work clothes, and if those work clothes are covered in asbestos dust, those family members can suffer serious injury and even death.”

It is good to see that some courts are supporting the rights of asbestos victims and their families.

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