The Supreme Court of California has overturned prior case law and imposed broad new liability on “employers and premises owners” in “take-home” toxic exposure cases. In a lengthy opinion issued in the consolidated Kesner v. Superior Court and Haver v. BNSF Railway Co. matters, the Court stated:
We hold that the duty of employers and premises owners to exercise ordinary care in their use of asbestos includes preventing exposure to asbestos carried by the bodies and clothing of on-site workers. Where it is reasonably foreseeable that workers, their clothing, or personal effects will act as vectors carrying asbestos from the premises to household members, employers have a duty to take reasonable care to prevent this means of transmission. This duty also applies to premises owners who use asbestos on their property, subject to any exceptions and affirmative defenses generally applicable to premises owners, such as the rules of contractor liability.
The Court held that “an employer’s or property owner’s duty to prevent take-home exposure extends only to members of a worker’s household, i.e., persons who live with the worker and are thus foreseeable in close and sustained contact with the worker over a significant period of time.” Continue Reading