After a trial court dismissed a mesothelioma lawsuit against two asbestos companies, the victim’s husband appealed the case to the Utah Supreme Court, asking them to reconsider whether work site owners have a duty to protect against second-hand asbestos exposure. Last week the court’s judges sided with the widower. His wrongful death suit against ConocoPhillips Co., Kennecott Utah Copper LLC and PacifiCorp will be heard by a jury.
Second-Hand Asbestos Exposure Blamed for Woman’s Mesothelioma Death
Larry Boynton filed his wrongful death lawsuit against the three companies following his wife’s death from malignant mesothelioma. His case was based on having worked at job sites owned by the three in the 1960s and 1970s. Though he did not personally work with asbestos, he worked near other contractors who did. He claimed that the mineral’s fibers stuck to his clothing, which his wife laundered.
His wife died of mesothelioma in February of 2016, just one month after her diagnosis with the rare, asbestos-related cancer. When he filed suit against the companies two of them argued that they owed no duty to his wife and moved for summary judgment; the third company – Kennecott – argued that it was their contractor that owed her a duty of care. The trial court granted the dismissal to the first two but not to Kennecott. Both Kennecott and Mr. Boynton filed an appeal to the state Supreme Court.
Justices Agree that Duty of Care Was Owed to Mesothelioma Victim
In handing down their decision, the justices first made clear that a duty of care had been owed to Mr. Boynton’s wife, writing that by the time he was working on the job site it was well known both that asbestos was dangerous and that second-hand mesothelioma was a real risk. They said that the company had affirmatively decided to use a known carcinogen and had “launched the instrument of harm.” They also noted that the company could have taken proactive steps to prevent spouses and family members from exposure, and that the companies’ argument that this was the responsibility of the individual workers made “little sense.” The court also decided that the question of who controlled Mr. Boynton’s work – his employer or the owner of the job site – should be determined by a jury. The entire case will move forward to trial.
If you or someone you love has died following exposure to asbestos, you need a strong advocate working on your behalf. For information on the help that we can provide, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today for more information. We can be reached at 1-800-692-8608.