The Los Angeles Times recently featured a story about a decision in the California Supreme Court concerning whether employers can be held responsible if a worker accidentally brings home asbestos from a job site and exposes members of his or her household to it. When this occurs, it is known as secondhand asbestos exposure.
Can Employers Be Held Liable for Secondhand Asbestos Exposure?
According to the report in the Los Angeles Times, the California Supreme Court ruling was the result of two secondhand asbestos exposure lawsuits.
In one of the lawsuits, the children of woman who died of mesothelioma in April 2009 filed a claim against her husband’s former employer. The suit alleges their mother’s former husband was exposed to asbestos at work, which led to their mother suffering secondhand asbestos exposure from his work clothes when he came home. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that has been closely tied to asbestos exposure.
The other lawsuit involved a man who died of mesothelioma in 2014. As a child, the man would stay at his uncle’s home three nights a week. At the time, his uncle worked at a brake manufacturing plant where he was exposed to asbestos. When he would come home, he would still be wearing his work clothes around his nephew.
This California Supreme Court ruling was significant in large part because it ended a legal bar regarding people who suffer asbestos exposure outside a workplace from filing claims against employers. Now, family members, such as children, wives and husbands, can hold companies accountable for needlessly exposing them to asbestos.
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