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U.S. Supreme Court Picks Up Not One, But Two Asbestos Liability Cases

In a case presented May 14, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to “resolve whether military widows can hold companies liable under maritime law for products that they did not make, sell, or distribute,” reports Pasadena-based Courthouse News Service (CNS).

The case involves two military widows (plaintiffs) who sued more than 50 companies before their husbands died of asbestos-related lung cancer. The plaintiffs alleged that their husbands were exposed to asbestos from equipment on Navy vessels they worked on years ago. They say the equipment was provided to the Navy by the 50+ companies. However, according to CNS, “several of the companies named as defendants did not actually manufacture or supply any of the insulation, gaskets or packing” that contained asbestos.

“A federal judge in Philadelphia sided with these companies at summary judgment” back in 2014, reports CNS, “but the Third Circuit remanded the case in an unpublished order last year.”

Attorneys for the widows explained that, “liability should follow because the sailors were exposed to asbestos from replacement parts that conformed to the manufacturers’ specifications.” Four of the companies petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse, reports CNS, but attorneys for the widows have emphasized that, “the primary purpose of [maritime law] is to protect sailors.”

In a statement, attorneys for the plaintiffs also said, “we think that, where the manufacturer knows that asbestos-containing wear parts will have to be replaced during the long life of the equipment, they should be held responsible.”

Attorneys for the defendants have not commented on the case.

This is one of two asbestos cases that the Supreme Court took up on May 14th. “The other case,” reports CNS, “involves an attempt by” a railway company “to let tax withholdings offset a negligence judgment it was ordered to pay a conductor it fired in 2012 after he injured his knee on the job.” The Eighth Circuit ruled against the railway company in August 2017.

“Per its custom,” reports CNS, “the U.S. Supreme Court did not issue any comment in picking up the two cases.”

If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor right away. Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, early diagnosis is possible today. If the disease is caught in its early stages, doctors can administer a number of treatments that have a better chance of being more effective. Talk to your doctor about your risk today.



Leonard, Barbara. "Asbestos Liability Case Picked Up by Supreme Court." Courthouse News Service (CNS), 14 May 2018. Web. 27 June 2018.

"What Are the Key Statistics About Malignant Mesothelioma?" American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society, Inc., 2018. Web. 27 June 2018.