In yet another example of a Court refusing to extend a legal duty to defendants in an asbestos take home exposure case, the Arizona Supreme Court upheld a defendant’s motion for summary judgment and rejected plaintiff’s argument that a company’s legal duty extends to warning household members of an employee regarding the hazards of asbestos.  

In October 2014, plaintiff Ernest Quiroz died from mesothelioma and his family sued Reynolds Metal, Alcoa, Inc., and Reywest Development, alleging their negligence caused Quiroz’s death. Quiroz’s father worked at Reynolds’ plant from 1948-1983 and his clothes were allegedly contaminated with asbestos fibers. The family alleged that when Quiroz’s father came home from work, Quiroz was exposed to the asbestos fibers on his father’s clothes, which eventually caused Quiroz’s mesothelioma. The family alleged that Reynolds had a duty to protect Quiroz from exposure to take-home asbestos.

Reynolds moved for summary judgment, asserting it owed no duty to Quiroz. The trial court granted this motion, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Arizona Supreme Court accepted review to answer the question of whether Reynolds owed a duty to Quiroz.

The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals decision, but affirmed the ruling that Reynolds owed no duty to Quiroz. The court held that the employer owed no duty to the public regarding secondary asbestos exposure because (a) there was no common law special relationship between the employer and the public, and (b) the family failed to identify a public policy giving rise to such a duty. 

CMBG3 Law LLC has represented clients in toxic torts matters, especially with respect to asbestos, for many years. We provide the most current legal advice to our clients by staying on top of developments in science, medicine, and regulations regarding a wide variety of substances and products used by consumers every day. If you have any questions or would like more information about this ruling, please contact John Gardella (email him or 617-279-8200).