In late 2016, the California State Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision whose impact continues to be felt by mesothelioma victims today. Responding to evidence that family members could contract the rare and fatal form of cancer after exposure to asbestos carried home on their loved ones’ clothing, the court ruled that these victims have a right to sue their family members’ employers for their failure to provide appropriate protection or warnings.
Asbestos Carried Home on Hair, Skin and Clothes Can Cause Mesothelioma
Malignant mesothelioma is an incurable form of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. Though its victims are most commonly people who have worked directly with the carcinogenic material, there have also been many afflicted with the disease after family members unwittingly carried the fibers into their homes.
Though asbestos companies argued that they had no responsibility to the family members of their employees, the California State Supreme Court was unanimous in its decision. They ruled in favor of those who had been sickened by the asbestos brought into their homes, with Justice Goodwin Liu writing, “Employers have a duty to take reasonable care.”
Children of Asbestos Workers Face Mesothelioma After Sitting on Their Fathers’ Laps
Prior to the decision being handed down, the court heard numerous accounts of those who had been diagnosed with mesothelioma after spending their childhoods greeting their fathers after each workday, with loving hugs being blamed for their eventual terminal diagnoses. Many told of climbing onto their father’s laps and coming away covered with asbestos dust, which they inhaled. Similar stories were told of wives and mothers sickened after shaking out asbestos laden work clothes in laundry rooms.
The California State Supreme Court was careful in its wording, limiting the right to sue to those who lived in a worker’s household. It ruled against the same capability for neighbors, store clerks and others who may have randomly or intermittently encountered asbestos workers, noting, “To be sure there are other persons who may have reason to believe they were exposed to significant quantities of asbestos by repeatedly spending time in an enclosed space with an asbestos worker – for example a regular carpool companion,” but noting that their ruling was limited to “an identifiable category of people … most likely to have suffered a legitimate, compensable harm.”
Page Reviewed and Edited by Mesothelioma Attorney Paul Danziger
Paul Danziger grew up in Houston, Texas and earned a law degree from Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. For over 25 years years he has focused on representing mesothelioma cancer victims and others hurt by asbestos exposure. Paul and his law firm have represented thousands of people diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer, recovering significant compensation for injured clients. Every client is extremely important to Paul and he will take every call from clients who want to speak with him. Paul and his law firm handle mesothelioma cases throughout the United States.