The widow of an oil company employee who claimed she developed mesothelioma—a type of cancer—after being exposed to asbestos fibers that her husband carried home on his work clothing can sue the company, the California Court of Appeal ruled.
The duty of employers to exercise ordinary care in their use of asbestos includes preventing exposure to asbestos that can be carried by the bodies and clothing of onsite workers, the court said. When it is reasonably foreseeable that workers, their clothing or personal effects will carry asbestos from the workplace to a household, employers have a duty to take reasonable care to prevent this means of transmission, the court concluded.
Wanda Beckering’s late husband Frank worked at Shell’s Wilmington and Dominguez facilities, primarily as a machinist, from 1954 until 1992, when he retired. He died in 2009. The Beckerings were married for 60 years. She laundered his work clothes but never visited his workplace.
On Aug. 14, 2013, Beckering filed suit against numerous defendants, including Shell, alleging she developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos brought home on her husband’s clothing while he worked at Shell’s facilities.
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