A recent toxic liability case argued before the Supreme Court of New Jersey brought the question of what constitutes a family into the scope of toxic liability law. Previously, the court ruled that a landowner may be liable if the spouse of a worker exposed to asbestos in New Jersey on their land became ill. For example, if a worker exposed to asbestos at work brings traces of it into his/her home and exposes their spouse to that asbestos, then the landowner may be held liable for the expenses incurred should the spouse become ill. At question in the recent case is whether that liability should be extended to a boyfriend or girlfriend living with a worker exposed to asbestos. In other words, should landowners be liable for the expenses of everyone living with an asbestos-exposed worker if they become sick?
This question is important to consider as more couples are choosing to live together but not to marry. The plaintiff’s attorneys argued that case law must evolve with social values and thereby recognize that many people choose to live together without becoming legally married. Furthermore, the plaintiff’s attorneys recognized that the couple’s emotional attachment must be evident and the time spent living together must be a consideration lest there be difficulty limiting liability and, thereby, increasing the likelihood of unfounded lawsuits against the landowner. However, the plaintiff’s attorneys stated that not extending liability in this case would be a mistake since their client lived with the asbestos-exposed worker for a period of time when he was exposed to asbestos and her illness was directly the result of that exposure.
In this case, the Supreme Court of New Jersey determined that the landowner’s liability was not dependent on the marital status of the people involved but, rather, it was determined by the evidence that the asbestos was introduced into the dwelling from the landowner’s property, and was directly related to the illness suffered by the housemate of an asbestos-exposed worker.
When companies or land owners knowingly expose workers to asbestos, victims deserve to be compensated for the hardships they encounter. Our team of New Jersey mesothelioma lawyers understand liability law and how it applies to cases wherein companies knew the risks, yet still exposed workers. At Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler, we believe workers deserve to be advocated for during each stage of the legal process. Contact us online or call toll-free at 1-800-369-0899 or 1-215-569-4000 today for a consultation. We proudly fight on behalf of workers throughout South Jersey and Pennsylvania including Chester County, Delaware County, Bucks County, and Philadelphia County.