Asbestos Litigation Case Questions Safety in the Workplace

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Although most would consider asbestos to be an old problem, limited to mainly the manufacturing and construction industries, asbestos has been incorporated into a myriad of products that had many and varied uses. Because asbestos was so pervasive, claims such as the one described below, occurring many years after the last occasions on which asbestos was used and arising from the use of sophisticated equipment in a laboratory, are still prevalent.

Dinsmore attorneys recently handled a premises liability case for a major minerals supply company. The case was unusual in that the plaintiff worked as a technician servicing laboratory equipment and the alleged asbestos exposures occurred into the 1990’s. This is in contrast to the typical asbestos case that usually involves exposure in heavy industry prior to 1980.

The plaintiff in this case initially worked as a technician for a manufacturer of laboratory instruments including thermoanalyzers. A thermoanalyzer is an instrument that allows the user to determine the amount of water in the sample being tested as well as certain other characteristics of the sample as the result of heating the sample to high temperatures. The thermoanalyzer at our client’s premises contained an asbestos paper separator between the “hot” portion of the instrument and the unheated side. The plaintiff testified that whenever he installed or performed service work on the thermoanalyzers, including the one at our client’s laboratory, he was exposed to friable asbestos from the paper separator as well as component insulation on vapor lines contained in the thermoanalyser. The plaintiff also contended that he was exposed to friable asbestos from an asbestos glove and asbestos pad that were provided with the thermoanalyzer. The plaintiff ultimately left his employment with the thermoanalyzer’s manufacturer and started his own business doing the same type of work, namely servicing various laboratory instruments, including thermoanalyzers. Significantly, the plaintiff alleged exposures at our client’s premises into the 1990’s. The plaintiff was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer which is uniformly fatal and is, except in rare circumstances, a signature disease for asbestos exposure.

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Published In: General Business Updates, Labor & Employment Updates, Personal Injury Updates, Toxic Torts Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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