U.S. Supreme Court Holds Manufacturer Liable for Third-Party Asbestos Components

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.

The court held that “a product manufacturer has a duty to warn when its product requires incorporation of a part, the manufacturer knows or has reason to know that the integrated product is likely to be dangerous for its intended uses, and the manufacturer has no reason to believe that the product’s users will realize that danger.”

Asbestos was once used in a variety of military, commercial, and industrial applications because it was inexpensive, malleable, and heat resistant, seemingly making it ideal for a multitude of situations. However, what was also known to manufacturers but not by the public was that asbestos exposure is directly linked to developing a variety of serious health conditions, including mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer that commonly attacks thin linings of tissue surrounding vital organs like the lungs, heart, and abdomen. The disease has a latency period of 20 to 50 years, which often leaves patients with diminished treatment options by the time a physician makes a diagnosis. Although researchers around the globe continue to make progress in treating mesothelioma, there is still no definitive cure for the disease.

Mesothelioma cancer victims have legal rights to file asbestos cancer lawsuits in state and federal courts to hold asbestos manufacturers responsible and recover compensation for the harm suffered. Lawsuits against asbestos companies can recover damages for lost wages, medical bills, and the pain and suffering of living with the disease.

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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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