Brett Michael Kavanaugh became the newest associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court when he was sworn in the evening of October 6, 2018. One of the first cases the new justice will hear is an asbestos lawsuit brought by the widows of two Navy sailors who died of lung cancer following exposure to asbestos-laden equipment used aboard various U.S. Navy vessels and in shipyards.
The widows sued more than 50 companies for liability following their husbands’ deaths, claiming the companies’ manufacturing contracts with the Navy made them responsible. According to a Courthouse News report, the companies claim that they cannot be held liable for the injuries “because the asbestos was added to their products by third parties after the point of sale.”
While “the companies being sued manufactured the equipment,” reported USA Today, “the asbestos was added later by companies that are now bankrupt.”
Attorneys for one of the defendants in the Supreme Court case told the justices that “even if the exposure occurred as they widows say it did,” his clients “connection to the toxic goods was only incidental.” Attorneys for the widows said, “this suggestion fails to take into account the manufacturer’s responsibility to warn workers of known or possible hazards associated with the goods.” Because the defendants “knew their products would be used with asbestos insulation, the potential harm from asbestos was easy to foresee,” he said.
Because the alleged injuries occurred at sea, the case falls under maritime law where the Supreme Court is the ultimate authority. Justice Kavanaugh, along with the rest of the Supreme Court, must now decide whether the companies can be held accountable under maritime law for injuries caused by asbestos they did not manufacture, sell or distribute.
If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor right away. Even if you do not have any symptoms, a specialist can establish a monitoring plan that could help detect mesothelioma sooner, and when it’s in its most treatable stages. Talk to your doctor about assessing your risk today.
Buchman, Brandi. "New justice on the bench: Kavanaugh's first Supreme Court cases." NBC News. NBC Universal, 06 Oct. 2018. Web. 10 Nov. 2018.
“U.S. Federal Bans on Asbestos.” EPA.gov. United States Environmental Protection Agency, 17 Jan. 2017. Web. 10 Nov. 2018.
Williams, Pete. "Supreme Court Weighs Third-Party Liability in Asbestos Case." Courthouse News. Courthouse News Service, 10 Oct. 2018. Web. 10 Nov. 2018.
Wolf, Richard. "Brett Kavanaugh's first cases will include immigration, asbestos exposure and firearms." USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, LLC., 06 Oct. 2018. Web. 10 Nov. 2018.