Navy product manufacturers are now liable for the death of Sailors exposed to asbestos

The United States Supreme Court Ruled that US Navy contractors must warn about asbestos exposure if the hazardous substance is required for use with their products.

In a 6-3 ruling by Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the 6-3 ruling found the previously-maligned justice siding with Chief Justice John Roberts and four liberal justices, while three conservative justices -Justices Gorsuch, Thomas and Alito- dissented.

According to USA Today, the case was filed by the families of two Navy sailors -Kenneth McAfee and John DeVries- who died of cancer-related to asbestos exposure.

The meat and potatoes of the case surrounded the liability of a manufacturer to warn consumers of dangers for a product that, while not produced by the company itself, would be added later in the manufacturing process.

Maritime law has always recognized a special solicitude for the welfare of those sailors who undertake to venture upon hazardous and unpredictable sea voyages,” Kavanaugh said.

Justice Gorsuch suggested that such warnings only produce long, often conflicting warnings that leave consumers more likely to ignore them.

“A home chef who buys a butcher’s knife may expect to read warnings about the dangers of knives but not about the dangers of undercooked meat,” he said. “Likewise, a purchaser of gasoline may expect to see warnings at the pump about its flammability but not about the dangers of recklessly driving a car.”

One of the several companies targeted by the lawsuit was Air & Liquid Systems Corp., a manufacturer that makes pumps, blowers, turbines and other equipment that was later furnished with asbestos by companies that are now defunct.

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