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Asbestos liability ruling revisited by SCOTUS

On Behalf of | Apr 27, 2022 | Maritime Accidents

One of the most historic product liability issues that has ever been processed by the U.S. court system is for asbestos contamination. Asbestos was used in a wide variety of products ranging from army ammunition belts to industrial pipe wrapping to inclusion in construction materials. It was in high-demand and virtually everywhere in New York for decades. Then, in the 1970s, medical researchers found that asbestos was the primary cause of cancer for many people across the nation, especially those who worked in industries where it was commonly used. Due to its extensive use on shipping vessels, asbestos has been associated with a claim from a couple who developed cancer after being exposed on an ocean liner.

The duty to inform of dangerous conditions

All parties who are responsible for maintenance on any property have a basic duty of care to inform those occupying the area that there could be hazardous conditions. This area can include a shipping vessel just like any other property. Land-based and maritime law claims follow the same principle in this legal application. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that dangerous additive materials, such as asbestos, that have been mixed in with other construction materials will also require a hazardous warning.

Could apply to passengers and employees alike

The fallout of this change in precedent could impact both claims that are presently being considered as all as some in the past that did not fall under this guideline. This is not to mention the number of new cases that may apply under both common law and admiralty law liability guidelines, including those working on the high seas.

This duty to inform clients of hazardous materials will assuredly open the door for many claims from those who have developed cancer after significant exposure to chemical while on a boat or any other property. This will not only include merchant marines but also general population passengers who frequently travel on commercial ocean liners.