Asbestos exposure is a well-known cause of three life-threatening health issues: mesothelioma, asbestosis, and asbestos-related cancer. Also well-established is the concept that workers take home asbestos fibers trapped in their clothing. This causes the same health issues in family members who never come into direct contact with the deadly substance. The most common problem centers on homemakers who then launder clothing for the worker and become exposed themselves.
A recent case in Phoenix raises the specter that families of workers may no longer be protected under the law. The Arizona Supreme Court will hear a case related to the 2014 death of a man who filed a case one year earlier claiming exposure to asbestos from work clothes worn by his father. The defendant in the suit is Reynolds Metal Company, which won in both a pretrial ruling and before a state appeals court.
On the other side of the issue, the California Supreme Court ruled in December 2016 that companies causing harm to others via second-hand exposure can be held liable. This opens the door for victims to file suits against manufacturers of asbestos products.
Mesothelioma is more prevalent in men than women. However, among women the disease is most often linked to second-hand asbestos exposure. The fibers are brought into the home via the worker’s clothing. In addition, the most vulnerable segment of the population, children, are increasingly being identified as victims of second-hand exposure for the same reasons.
In fact, anyone living or visiting the home of a worker who handles asbestos is at risk for developing a related disease. This is because the fibers are microscopic and can lodge in any cloth or settle on walls and floors. When disturbed, the fibers enter the air where they can be inhaled by anyone present.
Even if a company takes measures to protect workers from inhalation, failing to protect workers’ families and others of second-hand exposure may be regarded as negligence. This is the focus of the Reynolds case in Arizona. At issue is whether a company has an obligation to prevent creating conditions that will harm persons not on its property.
These cases are of special interest to anyone living in Philadelphia and surrounding communities because mesothelioma and asbestos-related illnesses are higher here than the national average. This is in large part because of the many older factories which continue to use asbestos in their facilities as well as the numerous reconstruction projects cutting, grinding, and removing the deadly material.
Second-hand exposure to asbestos is serious. Mesothelioma is a devastating disease which wreaks havoc on families. Those responsible should be held accountable and the Philadelphia asbestos lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler have been doing just that since 1984. If you or someone you love is suffering because of the negligence of others, we are here to help. To schedule a free consultation, contact us online or call 800-369-0899 or 215-569-4000. We serve clients throughout Philadelphia including Philadelphia County, Chester County, Delaware County, and New Jersey.