Washing His Clothes

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Q: My husband is a blue-collar worker.  His company issues five uniforms to a worker and offers a laundry service.  If the soiled uniform is placed in the right cabinet at work, then it is cleaned.

About half of the time, my husband chose to come home in his dirty clothes.  This was for reasons of convenience and also because there were no showers available at work.  At home, you can guess who washed them.

Eventually, we learned that my husband was handling products that contain asbestos.  Today, my doctor had some news.

A: Meritorious as your claim appears to me, the most recent case in New York goes squarely against it.  The courts are concerned about limitless liability.

Traditionally, the law requires a direct relationship between the wrongdoer and the victim.  Here, there exists no direct relationship between the employer and you.  I accept your tragic story as true, but courts cannot always be so accepting.  If the wife of an employee can sue, what about a good friend, or a casual one, or a laundry worker?

As courts like to see it, the specter of ‘limitless liability’ is banished only when the class of potential plaintiffs is circumscribed by the relationship.  Here, there is no direct relationship, and that is where the courts have traditionally drawn the line.

Asbestos-related disease caused by secondhand exposure may be relatively uncommon.  However, the courts are obliged to be concerned about an enormous number of fake claims, overwhelming the system.  To the extent that lawsuits should be permitted for secondhand exposure, the courts have asked that the green light come from Congress or the legislature.

Nevertheless, take this case to a lawyer.  Your situation cries out for justice.  Perhaps, there is a detail that you have omitted from telling me – e.g., a favorable contract negotiated by a union.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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