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Homeward Bound

One of the latest frontiers in asbestos premises liability litigation is called "take-home liability." Say a laborer had a job relining blast furnaces in the 1950s and 1960s, which exposed him to asbestos dust, which got on his clothes. He goes home and his wife or daughter does the laundry, thus exposing herself to the asbestos dust. A few decades later, the wife or daughter develops mesothelioma and sues the laborer's employer on a premises liability theory, arguing that it was foreseeable that she would be exposed to the dust and therefore the employer owed a duty to her. The most recent decision on this issue is Miller v. Ford Motor Co., out of the Michigan Supreme Court, which properly held that because Ford had no special relationship with the daughter and because she never set foot on the premises, Ford did not have a duty to protect her from exposure to asbestos. Pacific Legal Foundation's brief in the case is here. The court was particularly wary of the flood of litigation that would result from a contrary decision, particularly in the context of the already-overwhelming asbestos cases.

Just as recognizing a cause of action based solely on exposure would create a potentially limitless pool of plaintiffs, so too would imposing a duty on a landowner to anybody who comes into contact with somebody who has been on the landowner's property.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.