Dec 17, 2008 - Supreme Court Rules Manufacturers Not Liable in Asbestos Cases
Washington Supreme Court ruled in two separate cases last week that manufacturers are not liable for failing to warn about the hazards of asbestos in someone else’s product. Rulings in both cases said that the defendants couldn’t be held liable because they didn’t make, sell or distribute the asbestos products used to insulate their own products.
Dissenting voices said that the companies should be held liable because they knew in order for their products to be used, asbestos insulation would be needed. Therefore, the makers knew that whoever used their products would also be exposed to asbestos, which they knew to be dangerous.
The two cases, Simonetta vs. Viad Corp. and Braaten vs. Saberhagen Holdings, involved men who worked on navy ships where the manufacturers’ products were installed, and then later insulated with asbestos. Braaten, who worked as a pipe fitter for 35 years, developed mesothelioma, a lethal form of lung cancer due to exposure to asbestos. Simonetta was a maintenance worker who had to remove and replace asbestos insulation from valves and pumps on a water evaporator aboard ship. He later developed lung cancer.