Premises Owner Liability for Secondhand Asbestos Exposure: The Next Wave?
October 1, 2006Mark A. Behrens, Frank Cruz-Alvarez
Asbestos litigation has evolved over the years as plaintiffs’ lawyers have raised new theories of liability in the attempt to reach new types of defendants. In earlier years, asbestos litigation was focused mostly on the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products, often called “traditional defendants.” Most of those companies have been forced to seek bankruptcy court protection. As a result, plaintiffs’ lawyers began to sue “peripheral defendants,” including premises owners for alleged harms to independent contractors exposed to asbestos. Plaintiffs’ lawyers are now targeting property owners for alleged harms to secondarily exposed “peripheral plaintiffs.” These claims involve workers’ family members who have been exposed to asbestos off-site, typically through contact with an employee or that person’s soiled work clothes.