An Indiana appeals court allows asbestos suit for a lifelong electrician to continue against his former employers, who the man says were responsible for his recent diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Indianalawyer.com reports that Larry Myers, who worked for nearly 20 years for Koontz-Wagner Electric, served as an independent contractor for various companies from 1961 to 1980 and claims that he was never trained as to how to handle asbestos nor was he hired to work with the material, yet he did encounter it on the job and was given no protective gear to help him avoid inhalation of toxic dust.
As such, Myers filed suit earlier this year against 40 companies including Bremen Casting and Mastic Home Exteriors. The suit stated that “the defendants negligently hired the plaintiff and were vicariously liable for his diagnosis as principals, and further liable as premises owners.”
The suit claimed that the defendants knew or should have known about the dangers of asbestos and that they should have warned Myers of those dangers.
Originally, the defendants moved for summary judgement, which was granted partially by the Superior Court of the county in which it was filed. Myers’ attorneys appealed, arguing that the companies named owed him a duty of care. Attorneys cited the “non-delegable duty doctrine”, which maintains that principals can be liable for
Attorneys cited the “non-delegable duty doctrine”, which maintains that principals can be liable for negligence of an independent contractor in five different instances, including a few that could apply to this situation: where intrinsically dangerous work is involved or in the case of an act that will probably cause injury without due precaution.
The Court of Appeals decided that Myers could invoke the “due precaution” exception because the defendants failed to establish the fact that working with asbestos could be dangerous and could cause serious health problems. After a cross appeal, the Court still found in favor of Myers and his suit will now move forward.
Electricians like Larry Myers were/are constantly being exposed to asbestos on the job, especially during the middle years of the 20th century, but it’s very possible that exposure is still occurring, especially when these tradesmen and tradeswomen work inside older structures where materials like asbestos wire coating are still present.
Exposure can also occur when electricians drill into walls that include asbestos or when any other asbestos-containing construction products are cut or removed in the process of installing electrical systems or repairing wiring.
Hence, electricians should be diligent about taking the proper precautions to prevent the inhalation of asbestos fibers as they are among those who may be most prone to exposure. As a matter of fact, a 2008 Italian study involving 118 different tradesmen showed that electricians had high levels of mesothelioma biomarkers in their blood.
Specifically, the presence of soluble mesothelin-related peptides was confirmed among these individuals, which indicated that they were indeed candidates for developing mesothelioma in the future.
Electricians in the US work in a variety of industries including power plants and steel mills, refineries and other factories. Many electricians are independent contractors like Myers and may have been exposed to asbestos in a number of different locations. Hence, electricians who have developed mesothelioma due to on-the-job exposure should consult an attorney to learn of their legal rights for compensation.