New Jersey Appeals Court Rules Manufacturers Owe a Duty to Warn About Aftermarket Replacement Parts Made with Asbestos

A New Jersey state court recently handed down an important decision in an asbestos cancer lawsuit that holds manufacturers can still be responsible for a person’s mesothelioma diagnosis if that person came in contact with asbestos in aftermarket replacement parts, even if the manufacturer did not make or distribute the items. The ruling overturns a lower court decision in favor of the defendants, which consisted of several asbestos manufacturers attempting to skirt their legal responsibility to warn the public about the dangers their products could pose.

According to the asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in Middlesex County Superior Court, the plaintiff developed a serious form of cancer, mesothelioma, from years of coming in contact with asbestos-contaminated parts as a commercial plumber and auto repair mechanic. Specifically, the plaintiff worked as a boiler technician from the 1950s until the early 1990s and handled valves, steam traps, and brake drums manufactured by Armstrong International Inc., Burnham LLC, Carrier Corp., Cleaver-Brooks Inc., Crown Boiler Co., Ford Motor Co., Johnson Controls Inc., NIBCO Inc., and Oakfabco Inc.

While the parts the plaintiff came in contact with were not manufactured by the named defendants, his lawsuit charged that because the companies knew their products would need routine maintenance and repair with aftermarket parts made with asbestos, that these entities owed a duty to warn. In their decision, the Appellate Judges wrote “We conclude that a duty to warn exists when the manufacturer’s product contains asbestos components, which are integral to the function of the product, and the manufacturer is aware that routine periodic maintenance of the product will require the replacement of the components with other asbestos-containing products.”

Asbestos, a naturally occuring mineral found in nature, was once commonly used in a variety of industrial, commercial, and military applications for its heat resistant and malleable properties. While the federal government did not begin to restrict the use of asbestos until the 1970s, asbestos companies knew for decades about the risk their carcinogenic products could pose to those coming in contact with the substance.

As a result of this corporate greed, thousands of people are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year. The disease is a rare form of cancer directly linked with asbestos exposure and affects the thin linings of tissue surrounding vital organs like the lungs, heart, and abdomen. Although nothing can undo the harm caused by a mesothelioma cancer diagnosis, the law gives victims and their families the right to file mesothelioma lawsuits to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and physical pain and suffering.

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If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced nationwide mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help pay for your medical treatment to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.

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