The U.S. Supreme Court recently handed down a significant ruling in a mesothelioma lawsuit in which it held that companies may be held liable when third party components necessary for a product’s operation cause injury. The case was originally brought by two Navy veterans and their wives against Air & Liquid Systems Corp. and four other manufacturers of equipment used on Navy ships that required asbestos parts to function as intended.
According to the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, the plaintiffs developed their illnesses due to years of asbestos exposure aboard Navy ships. The victims blamed the exposure on components manufactured by third parties designed to fit equipment made by the defendants. The plaintiffs argued that since the defendants knew their equipment required products manufactured with asbestos by third parties, they should have provided warnings and are therefore liable for the exposure.
In their defense, Air & Liquid Systems Corp. and the other defendants relied on what is known as a “bare metal” defense, arguing that they delivered their products to the Navy without any asbestos and did not manufacture the carcinogenic parts. However, the Supreme Court did not accept the defendants’ arguments, instead relying on established maritime law that extends special protections to Navy veterans.