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Companies Could Be Liable for Families Exposed to Asbestos, AZ High Court Examines Secondary Exposure Case

The Arizona Supreme Court was faced recently with deciding whether employers can be held liable to someone who developed cancer from asbestos brought home on a family members work clothes. The case stemmed from the 2014 death of the son of a metal company worker whose 2013 negligence lawsuit claimed he was exposed to asbestos from his father’s work clothes. According to KTAR News, Phoenix, the suit argued that the metal company “was legally obligated to avoid creating hazardous conditions that would injure people off its property.”

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), “there is some evidence that family members of workers heavily exposed to asbestos face an increased risk of developing mesothelioma.” Second hand exposure occurs when workers exposed to asbestos carry asbestos fibers home on the shoes, clothing, skin, and hair. To decrease these exposures, companies are required by Federal law to protect workers by creating and enforcing safety rules that limit the possibility of asbestos being carried home.

“Some employees may be required to shower and change their clothes before they leave work,” says the NCI “or store their street clothes in a separate area of the workplace, or wash their work clothes at home separately from other clothes.”

A few years ago, an 89 year-old woman was awarded $1.1 million in a second hand asbestos exposure case involving 13 defendants. The woman, who was eventually diagnosed with mesothelioma, was exposed through washing her husband’s asbestos filled clothes, and engaging in normal activities such as hugging and touching her husband of over 70 years.

The husband, who had unknowingly exposed his wife to asbestos, showed no signs of mesothelioma at the time of the verdict. Sadly, it was unknown whether his wife would live for a few months or a few years.

Verdicts such as this are significant, as they hold companies responsible for exposing workers to asbestos. They are also helping expand liability to include loved ones who are exposed to asbestos second hand.

If you have been exposed to asbestos, schedule an appointment to see your doctor right away. Risk assessment, diagnostic tests, and establishing a monitoring plan can help detect mesothelioma sooner and in its most treatable stages. Talk to your doctor today.

 

Sources

“Arizona High Court to Rule on Liability for Asbestos Carried Home.” KTAR.com. Bonneville International, 11 May 2018. Web. 03 July 2018.

“Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Risk.” Cancer.gov. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Cancer Institute (NCI), 07 June 2017. Web. 03 July 2018.

“Jury Awards 89 Year-Old Woman $1.1 Million for Second Hand Asbestos Exposure from Husbands Work Clothes.” Bergmanlegal.com. Bergmanlegal.com, n.d. Web. 03 July 2018.