August 01, 2019 Top Story

Family Members Can Recover for Asbestos Exposure at Home

Daughter recovers for mesothelioma contracted from washing her father’s clothes

By Erik A. Christiansen

A state court case significantly expanded the class of persons who can recover for asbestos exposure to include family members never exposed at work.

iStockphoto by Getty Images

In a 5–4 decision, the Virginia Supreme Court held the daughter of a shipyard worker may pursue a negligence claim against her father’s employer. Quisenberry v. Huntington Ingalls Inc. allowed the daughter to recover for her malignant pleural mesothelioma because she helped wash her father’s asbestos-covered clothing in the 1950s and 1960s.

The plaintiff daughter could not allege a duty arising out of an agency, contractual, familial, or employer-employee relationship. As described by the supreme court, the shipyard and the daughter are “strangers under the law.” Nevertheless, Quisenberry held in favor of take-home liability, even though “[w]here no relationship exists, it is axiomatic that there is no duty.”

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