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Possible defenses for companies in asbestos litigation

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2023 | Insurance Defense News

If you have a company, you are probably all too familiar with the common phrase, “you can sue anyone for anything.” It almost seems like some people take this as a personal challenge to use the legal system to file lawsuit after lawsuit.

However, with our legal system, there is always a balance between the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s interests. If you are trying to defend your company from litigation, especially high-stakes litigation like asbestos and mesothelioma litigation, defenses do exist. This post will go over just a few possible options.

Alternative exposure

The first and most straightforward defense is alternative exposure.

This defense does not seek to argue that the disease was not caused by asbestos. Instead, that the plaintiff’s asbestos-related disease was not caused by you. In other words, the exposure was from a source that is not from one of your products or on your premises.

A thorough examination of the plaintiff’s medical records, testimony, work history, etc. could show other potential areas of exposure. If so, then an alternative exposure defense could have merit, reduce liability or shift liability to another party.

Statute of limitations

Another straightforward defense is the statute of limitations. This is a common defense in all litigation because almost all lawsuits must be brought by a deadline set out by statute. If a lawsuit is not brought by this deadline, a lawsuit is barred.

While the deadline for asbestos claims varies by state, it is usually between one and six years from when your former employee knew or should have known they had an asbestos-related disease.

Bare metal defense

A less straightforward defense is the bare metal defense that is for companies that sold or manufactured equipment that contained asbestos components, but did not manufacture those components themselves. The most common examples are insulation, valves and gaskets.

With the bare metal defense, you argue that you cannot be liable for your former employee’s asbestos-related disease because you did not make, sell, distribute or even have knowledge of the asbestos-containing parts. Plus, at the time, you would have had no knowledge of the dangers of asbestos to even warn or mitigate the effects of the asbestos.