As a case with serious implications for veterans exposed to asbestos heads to the Supreme Court, asbestos sufferers share their personal stories in hopes of obtaining justice.
In the case, Air and Liquid Systems Corp. v. Devries, the wives of two deceased U.S. Navy veterans allege that their late husbands were exposed to asbestos-containing insulation during their tours. The materials were added to mechanical devices such as boilers, turbines, and pumps after they were made. The court will determine whether or not makers of equipment are responsible for third-party components added after manufacturing. This ruling will be particularly important for veterans who were exposed to asbestos in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard, or as a merchant marine.
What is the Bare Metal Defense?
Defendants in Devries made and shipped their products “bare-metal,” a term that refers to transporting their machinery without insulation, leaving it to the ship’s crew to complete the assembly and installation of the equipment. These products often included high-temperature machinery such as boilers, which require insulation to be safely installed. While the insulation was not included with the sale of the product, it was common for the manufacturer’s equipment manuals to specifically recommend using asbestos insulation on the equipment. Because they were shipped without the asbestos products, the manufacturers have relied on a “bare-metal defense” that shields a manufacturer from liability for aftermarket parts containing asbestos made by another company.
When this particular case came before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the court looked to maritime law for guidance, since it had no precedent to follow from the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court’s opinion “permits a manufacturer of a bare-metal product to be held liable for asbestos-related injuries when circumstances indicate the injury was a reasonably foreseeable result of the manufacturer’s actions.”
The defendants, Air & Liquid Systems Corp., CBS Corp., and Foster Wheeler LLC have asked the high court to overturn the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruling regarding whether products liability defendants can be held liable under maritime law for injuries caused by insulation or asbestos-containing parts not originally sold with these products and which the defendants did not make, sell, or distribute. If the court upholds the ruling, manufacturers may face liability for third-party component parts if the injury was reasonably foreseeable.
How Waters Kraus & Paul Can Help Victims of Asbestos Exposure
Waters Kraus & Paul has partnered with the American Association for Justice, a nonprofit advocacy organization, in an effort to overcome the bare metal defense. The firm is participating in a public outreach campaign to educate our clients and their families about the manufacturers’ tactic to evade responsibility and what the clients can do to defeat it. Our attorneys are asking clients to share their personal stories of asbestos exposure and struggles with mesothelioma. These personal stories will help to paint a picture that will demonstrate why the equipment manufacturers should be held liable. The stories will be compiled and offered to the Court in a friend of the court brief opposing the bare metal defense.
Using our extensive resources, our asbestos attorneys have helped victims of asbestos exposure that occurred here in the U.S. and abroad. With a national presence and a wealth of experience prosecuting mesothelioma cases, Waters Kraus & Paul provides aggressive representation throughout the entire course of litigation. To learn more about legal representation at Waters Kraus & Paul, or to have one of our asbestos attorneys review your potential mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illness case, email us or call 800.226.9880.