Wow- An interesting case came down last week from the Second Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal. In Campell v Ford Motor Company, 2012 WL 1820919, the Court held that an employer "has no duty to protect family members of employees from secondary exposure to asbestos used during the course of the employer's business".
In the Campbell case, the plaintiff claimed that she contracted mesothelioma as a result of laundering her husband's asbestos covered work clothes. The allegation was that her husband was hired by Ford to install asbestos insulation at one of its automotive plants. Relying on recent California Supreme Court rulings, particularly Cabral v Ralphs Grocery (see June 30, 2011 post), the Court found that since there was no duty owed by Ford for this secondary exposure, there could be no liability for any resulting injury to its employee's spouse caused by this "take home" exposure.
This has some far reaching applications to automobile dealers who are sued in asbestos litigation as well as in other cases alleging secondary exposure. As it stands now, since there is no duty to family members of the employee, there is no liability to the employer.