In addition to the physical impact of mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases, victims who were sickened following exposure to asbestos at work also have a lot of emotional issues to deal with, and one of the most troubling is the fear that they may have carried the carcinogen into their homes and exposed their families too.
That question is at the heart of a significant decision made recently by the Supreme Court of Delaware. The court was asked to consider a case brought by the family of Dorothy Ramsey, who died of lung cancer after years of laundering her husband’s work clothes, which were covered with asbestos dust.
Mrs. Ramsey’s family had filed a claim against the manufacturers who provided Ramsey’s employer with the asbestos material, charging them with negligence in failing to provide a warning about the risks involved with exposure to the material.
The manufacturer filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the responsibility did not rest with them, but with Mr Ramsey’s employer.
In considering the case, the Supreme Court of Delaware considered decisions that they had previously made in cases involving take-home exposure to asbestos resulting in mesothelioma.
They discussed asbestos company concerns that decisions about take home exposure might lead to countless claims filed by dubiously-related people about exposure to asbestos, as well as who has the responsibility for informing those who are at ‘downstream’ risk of asbestos exposure.
After much discussion, the court made the decision that when an employer warns an employee of risk, they do so with the assumption that the employee will relate the information to those in their family, thus eliminating the employer’s obligation to the spouse laundering clothes.
They also indicated that if a manufacturer provides appropriate warnings and instructions to an employee’s employers, then they eliminate their duty of care to the employees and their spouses.
However, if the manufacturer fails to provide the employer with appropriate warnings, then the manufacturer can be considered negligent and liable to the employee, as well as to their spouse who laundered their clothing.
This decision may have a big impact on future legal cases involving take home exposure to asbestos.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, it is important that you have access to all of the information you need to protect yourself and your rights. For assistance, contact the helpful Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.