We know that secondary smoke from cigarettes can cause cancer. We also know that third-hand exposure, exposure to the chemicals from smoking that are on a smoker’s clothing and furniture, is also dangerous. A recent case dug into whether the same held true with asbestos. Can a man who developed cancer after exposure to asbestos on his stepfather’s work clothing hold that employer liable?
What is a “take-home” asbestos case?
The name makes sense, as it involves one person exposed to asbestos exposing others. A common example involves a person who works with an asbestos containing product getting it on their clothing and bringing it home, exposing their family.
In a recent case, a stepfather took home asbestos fibers after leaving work at an oil field. The fibers stayed on his clothing and his stepson, Brennen James Atkeson, who was a young child at the time, was exposed to the fibers. Once exposed, these fibers remain within the body. As a result, this exposure early in life caused Brennen to develop mesothelioma as an adult. Unfortunately, Brennen died from the disease in 2016. He was only 38.
Can those who make and sell asbestos products be liable for “take-home” cases?
Brennen’s family and loved ones argued that the manufacturer and distributor of the asbestos containing products should hold some responsibility in Brennan’s death because they failed to warn anyone of the potential and dangers of exposure to asbestos when using their product. The court agreed and awarded Brennen’s daughter and family $8 million. The defendants tried to push back, arguing there was not enough evidence to support such a large award. Ultimately, the court stood by the jury’s decision and affirmed the award.
The case is an example of the ability to hold manufacturers and distributors of asbestos containing products liable when some is exposed and develops an illness like mesothelioma. This case should also serve as a reminder that those who are diagnosed with mesothelioma may have a similar claim.