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Delaware Court Holds Manufacturer Has No Duty in Take Home Exposure Case

The following is a guest post by Paul A. Bradley of Maron Marvel Bradley Anderson & Tardy LLC. 

A decision from Delaware Superior Court Judge Vivian Medinilla extends Delaware’s no duty for take home asbestos exposure to product manufacturers.

The Delaware Superior Court ruled on February 2, 2017, that a manufacturer does not owe a duty in a take home exposure case, extending the reasoning of Price v. DuPont, 26 A.3d 162 (Del. 2011) and Riedel v. ICI, 968 A.2d 17, 21 (Del. 2009) to a manufacturer (Herty). Price and Riedel held that an employer had no duty to the plaintiff-spouse in a take home exposure case.

Dorothy Ramsey, the decedent, was the spouse of Robert Ramsey, who worked at the Haveg plant in Delaware in the 1960s and 1970s. Mr. Ramsey worked with pipe and pipe fittings using resin-soaked asbestos paper manufactured by Herty. Herty supplied asbestos paper to Haveg from 1976 to 1980. Mrs. Ramsey laundered Mr. Ramsey’s clothes and alleged that exposure was the proximate cause of her lung cancer.

The court noted that “[t]he key difference in this case – that Herty is a manufacturer and not Plaintiff’s employer – undermines, rather than bolsters Plaintiff’s contention that Price and Riedel are distinguishable.” The court held that typical negligence allegations like failing to warn or to take some other action to protect plaintiff are nonfeasance and plaintiff must show some special relationship under those circumstances for a duty to apply.  Here, there was no special relationship and hence no duty was owed by the manufacturer to the spouse.

A Motion for Reconsideration or Appeal to the Delaware Supreme Court is anticipated.

The decision by Superior Court Judge Vivian L. Medinilla is Ramsey v. Atlas Turner Ltd., C.A. No. N14C-01-287 ASB (Del. Super. Ct. Feb. 2, 2017).

Paul A. Bradley, Maron Marvel Bradley Anderson & Tardy LLC, (302) 425-5177; pab@maronmarvel.com; www.maronmarvel.com

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About Kirk

Since becoming a lawyer in 1983, Kirk’s over 30 years of practice have focused on advising a wide range of corporations, associations, and individuals (as both plaintiffs and defendants) on both tort and commercial law issues centered around “mass torts.”

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