Asbestos litigation asks how far employer's liability extends

Asbestos has been an ongoing problem in Ohio and across the United States, with symptoms showing up years or even decades after the original time of exposure. A recent piece of asbestos litigation in another state, however, may help expound upon another ongoing legal question: does a company's responsibility to protect against hazardous material exposure stop with the employee or extend to cover other members of the employee's household? This question has applied specifically in the past to work environments rife with asbestos.

Asbestos, the highly carcinogenic mineral that was heavily used in industrial settings, was sometimes carried home on the clothes of employees who worked in those environments. Family members who were exposed to second-hand asbestos in this way got sick and even died. The answer to whether employers should be held liable has varied, depending on the court and jurisdiction in which the case was heard.

A recent lawsuit addresses the issue once again. The Arizona State Supreme Court will be hearing arguments in a lawsuit revolving around the death of an individual due to mesothelioma. In Sept. 2016, an appellate court ruled against the plaintiff for fear of opening the door to similar cases of second-hand exposure to a wide range of hazardous materials. The surviving family members have appealed the decision.

While some states (excluding Ohio) have explicitly ruled against second-hand asbestos exposure, the deceased's family members are hoping that Arizona's Supreme Court will rule in their favor. The outcome of this case could potentially have some bearing upon future asbestos litigation cases. Regardless, anyone in Ohio who has suffered asbestos-related illness or lost a loved one to exposure has the right to explore their legal options with an experienced attorney.

Source: claimsjournal.com, "Arizona High Court to Rule on Liability in Asbestos Take Home Exposure Case", Feb. 21, 2017

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