September 4, 2014
On August 20, 2014, the California Supreme Court granted petitions for review in two published decisions that reached different conclusions on whether a defendant owed a duty for take-home exposures. Both matters (Haver v. BNSF Railway Co. and Kesner v. Superior Court) presented the following issue: If an employer’s business involves either the use or the manufacture of asbestos-containing products, does the employer owe a duty of care to members of an employee’s household who could be affected by asbestos brought home on the employee’s clothing? Faced with petitions for review in these two published decisions that reached different results, California’s high court is working to resolve the conflict.

In Haver v. BNSF Railway Co., the Second Appellate District affirmed the dismissal of a take-home exposure claim filed by a wife who laundered her husband’s clothes, holding the defendant premises owner did not owe a duty, “consistent with the majority view in the nation on this issue." In Kesner v. Superior Court, the First Appellate District reversed a nonsuit in favor of a defendant who manufactured asbestos brake-linings at its plant, holding a duty was owed to family members of a plant worker for take-home exposures.

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