So as not to bury the lede, here’s the short version: Last week, the California Supreme Court overruled two recent Court of Appeals decisions to hold that a company can be held liable for negligence liability when it exposes an employee to asbestos fibers, the employee takes the fibers home on his or her clothing, a member of the household is exposed to the asbestos and as a result, develops a disease and dies.
The case is Kesner v. Superior Court, December 1, 2016, S219534. It constitutes a ruling in favor of asbestos plaintiffs on an issue that has been legally hot and factually contested all over the United States. When applying the decision to a take-home exposure asbestos case, all one needs to know is the Cal Supremes ruled there was a legal duty owed by employers to members of their employees’ households not to expose those household members to asbestos fibers.
But for other tort practitioners, the Kesner case is a good example of how the seven factors from the nearly 50 year-old decision of Rowland v. Christian (1968) 69 Cal.2nd 108 will be used for the court to determine whether there is a legal duty – a decision always made by the court, not the jury. More about this after the jump.