Independent Contractor’s Mesothelioma Claim to Have Its Day in Court

For nearly ten years, the estate of mesothelioma victim Charles Beverage has been fighting for justice on his behalf, and now a judicial decision may finally provide it. Though the asbestos companies being blamed for exposing him to asbestos have fought to have the case dismissed, the Iowa Supreme Court recently reversed a previous grant of summary judgment and allowed the case to move forward.


Mesothelioma Victim Exposed to Asbestos at Aluminum Plant

The original mesothelioma claim was filed by Mr. Beverage’s survivors following his death in October of 2015. They blamed his death on exposure to asbestos between the 1950s and 1970s, when he worked as an independent contractor at an aluminum plant, and filed suit against Alcoa, the plant’s owner, and Iowa-Illinois Taylor Insulation Inc., which installed asbestos-contaminated insulation in the plant. 

The companies filed motions for summary judgment based on the Iowa state asbestos-liability-limitation statute in response to the mesothelioma claim. This motion was granted by the district court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals of Iowa, then vacated by the Iowa Supreme Court which held that the statute did not apply to claims other than those for product liability. The company then re-filed its motion, arguing that they owed Mr. Beverage no duty of care because he had been an independent contractor. The district court again agreed with the company, and the estate appealed again.

Multiple Appeals in Mesothelioma Case End with Decision for Victim

In its final appeal, the mesothelioma victim’s estate argued that premises liability precedent established Alcoa’s duty to their loved one as a land possessor and asserted that the company’s “conduct created the risk of asbestos exposure by using asbestos-containing insulation, equipment, and products” as well as “created an artificial condition of airborne asbestos fibers when the company had its employees remove insulation.”

In its review of the district court’s decision, the Iowa Supreme Court agreed with the mesothelioma victim’s estate that the lower court had gone too far in its reliance on a previous decision. That decision had ruled that an employer owed no duty to a member of the household of an employee of an independent contractor.  The Supreme Court agreed that this expansion was inappropriate and that the traditional duty of care owed by land possessors should apply to Mr. Beverage. The case will move forward to a jury.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, the Patient Advocates at can guide you on how to move forward. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608 to learn more.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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