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take-home asbestos exposure

Landmark Appellate Victory In Favor of Victims of Take Home Asbestos Exposure

take home asbestos exposureIn a landmark victory decision that may offer hope for justice to all victims of take home asbestos exposure, a California court of appeal has ruled that a case of take home asbestos exposure that had been dismissed now can be reinstated and move forward to trial.

Kazan Law is pleased to announce that the court of appeal reversed a lower court’s ruling that would have dismissed a take home asbestos case against Pneumo Abex, a manufacturer of asbestos brakes, brought by Johnny Kesner, who was exposed to asbestos dust brought home from the Abex plant by his uncle, an employee there.  (Kesner v. Pneumo Abex, LLC (May 15, 2014) First Dist., Div. 3, Nos. A136378 and A136416).

Kazan Law of-counsel attorney Ted W. Pelletier joined trial counsel from the firm Weitz & Luxenberg to successfully argue the case before the Court of Appeal.

The appeal court decision is of special significance because it is the first one to limit a previous court decision that prevented the owner of a piece of property from being held liable for harmful take home asbestos exposures that resulted from the work done on the property.

That decision, Campbell v. Ford Motor Co. (2012) 206 Cal.App.4th 15, was issued in November 2012. It determined that Ford was not responsible for asbestos exposure to family members brought home on the clothes of workers installing asbestos-containing insulation while constructing a new Ford factory on the property. The workers were employed by the contractor hired to build the factory not by Ford itself.

Since then, companies successfully argued that this decision applies to them even though they do not merely own the premises but also actually cause asbestos exposure by manufacturing asbestos products or performing the work that released the asbestos dust.  Many trial courts, lacking further guidance, have applied the Campbell decision to these cases, depriving asbestos exposure victims of the right to pursue their claims against those responsible.

Kazan Law just helped change that. We helped convince the court that Pneumo Abex, who both owned the land and used it to manufacture asbestos-containing brake products, knowingly exposed its employee George Kesner, Johnny Kesner’s uncle, to asbestos dust that he regularly brought home on his clothes.

In a significant step, the appeal court will publish this decision thus making it binding throughout the state. This published decision will provide much-needed guidance to the trial courts in cases involving a defendant who actively created the asbestos exposure hazard that caused injury and who also happened to own the premises where it happened.

Take-Home Asbestos Exposure Case Stories

Clara and Ronald Ricker

Kazan Law client Ronald Ricker with his mother, Clara in 1991

Though occupational asbestos exposure is the most common kind, people can come into contact with the deadly mineral in many other ways. It can line the buildings they live in, occur in natural ore deposits near their homes or even be brought home by their spouses or family members as dust, usually on clothing and in hair.

This is called paraoccupational asbestos exposure, and it happens more often than you might think.

At Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood and Harley, we’ve been involved in dozens of cases over the years that involved individuals whose health was ruined by paraoccupational exposure. In many of these cases, the asbestos brought home on clothes ultimately resulted in one or more people developing malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM).

Deadly dust has consequences decades later

Studies have shown that this form of exposure can radically increase the risk of asbestosis and MPM, even in young adults. To give you an idea of the toll paraoccupational exposure can take, here are some summary details on a pair of “take-home” asbestos cases that we have represented:

– Ronald Ricker. Living in Northern California in the 1960s and ’70s, Mr. Ricker was exposed to asbestos in two different ways. First, his mother, Clara, brought home fibers on her clothing, body and personal effects while working at Varian, Inc., a scientific instruments manufacturer. (Specifically, she worked with Rockbestos asbestos insulated wire products from 1966 to 1971.) Ronald also came into contact with the mineral during his own employment as a machinist at Varian, Inc. from 1969 to 1971. In October 2009, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma.

In his deposition, Mr. Ricker noted that his mother “always looked like she had been working, you know – she was a little bit dirtier and dustier [when she got home from work].”

When asked if she ever changed clothes after getting home, he said “not until after dinner, when she was taking a bath.” He and his mother had dinner together every day, a ritual that in all likelihood dramatically increased his amount of paraoccupational asbestos exposure.

– Jeanette Franklin. Our client, Ms. Franklin, was just a girl in the 1940s, when both of her parents worked at USX Corporation’s Western Pipe and Steel shipyard in South San Francisco. Her father worked as welder, while her mother acted as a carpenter’s assistant. Virtually every day, her parents unknowingly carried deadly asbestos fibers home on their clothing, exposing their young children to a deadly carcinogen. Because asbestos fibers work their way into pleural cells and lodge there, the mineral can take decades to cause MPM – and it did. In March 1999, Jeanette Franklin was diagnosed with mesothelioma.

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