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An important ruling on asbestos-contaminated packing materials

On Behalf of | Jul 13, 2023 | Asbestos Exposure & Claims

Asbestos-related lawsuits often involve employees who have been sickened through exposure at work because they had to handle asbestos on the job. Those who work in manufacturing facilities or in the construction industry, as well as shipyard workers, are among those at the highest degree of risk for an asbestos-related illness like mesothelioma.

There have also been cases where consumers have filed lawsuits against businesses that released products contaminated with asbestos to the public. A recent appeals court ruling now paves the way for those sickened by products that a company used but did not manufacture to hold that business accountable for exposing them to asbestos.

A recent case paves the way for a widow’s claim

Someone who works as a teacher and ceramics artist probably doesn’t expect to have much asbestos risk on the job. However, that is unfortunately what happened to a man in Illinois. He routinely opened shipping packages that contained vermiculite contaminated with asbestos. That vermiculite came from a mine in Montana linked to thousands of illnesses. After the artist and teacher’s death in 2020, his widow took over as the primary plaintiff in a lawsuit against the business using the dangerous packaging materials. The district court in Northern Illinois dismissed her lawsuit, but the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals entered a recent ruling that will allow the lawsuit to move forward.

The now-deceased artist had initiated the lawsuit after his diagnosis in 2017, and his testimony included an explanation of how he ended up exposed to the dust from the vermiculite while unpackaging products. The Appeals Courts maintained that companies shipping products to consumers have to take responsibility for what they manufacture and also typically what they obtain from other businesses.

Given that many businesses have knowingly used dangerous or contaminated materials to save money, creating a potential financial consequence for doing so might be the only way to stop them from putting people at risk in the future. Those exposed to asbestos by their employer or any other business that would have a reason to know that there was asbestos contamination present in their products or materials might have grounds for a claim against that business. Ultimately, pursuing compensation for asbestos-related illnesses may help people reduce their personal losses and prompt better practices among modern businesses.


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