Asbestos Exposure for Contractors

The California Supreme Court has ruled that premises owners and employers owed a duty to the employee’s household to prevent take-home exposure to asbestos. For example, claims that the plaintiff was exposed when a family member came home with asbestos fibers on his work clothes. For a more detailed description of the case, click here.

This ruling is more important to the Construction industry given the ruling in Hernandezcueva v. Brady  243 Cal.App.4th 249 from January of this year. In Hernandezcueva, the court found that E.F. Brady was potentially liable for its use of an asbestos-containing drywall joint compound on the job. The Court held that E.F. Brady was not just a contractor, but played a significant role in the stream of commerce of the asbestos-containing joint compound because it:

  1. “Always” provided materials as part of its drywall contract;
  2. Structured its time-and-materials contract to recoup the costs of materials (even “without necessarily ensuring a profit regarding those costs,” in part because the costs were “substantial, as they ordinarily constituted 25 percent of the amount of a bid”);
  3. Had a relationship with manufacturers of asbestos-containing drywall products “sufficient to command the personal attention of [their] representatives to E.F. Brady’s concerns regarding the products” that placed it “‘in a position to exert pressure on the manufacturer’ to improve product safety;” and
  4. Was a large commercial operation and so was “capable of bearing the costs of compensating for injuries due to the products.”

A more through discussion of that case can be found here.