Asbestos-Containing-Product Seller Not Liable

Thomas Briggs retired in 1982, contracted lung cancer and later died as a result of exposure to asbestos-containing brake shoes at one of the places he worked.

Thomas Briggs retired in 1982, contracted lung cancer and later died as a result of exposure to asbestos-containing brake shoes at one of the places he worked. In February 2000, his widow filed a wrongful death suit against 71 companies.

The defendants asked an Indiana trial court to grant summary judgment for them, asserting that the suit was barred by the state's statute of repose that requires product liability suits to be filed no more than 10 years after the delivery of an allegedly dangerous product. Because the alleged exposure of Thomas Briggs occurred more than 10 years before Mrs. Briggs sued, the court said her lawsuit was barred.

She appealed the judgment of favor involving two of the defendants, Griffin Wheel Corp. and Railroad Friction Products, which she said had distributed asbestos-containing products made by companies that had gone bankrupt and should be made to stand in the place of the bankrupt companies. Mrs. Briggs argued that the "asbestos exception" to the 10-year statute of repose that permits product liability suits to be filed against "miners or sellers" of asbestos within two years after the date the person knows he has an asbestos-related injury, applied to her claims against Griffin and Railroad.

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled against Mrs. Briggs, concluding that Griffin and Railroad Friction were not "miners or sellers" of asbestos.

Briggs v. Griffin Wheel Corp., 851 N.E.2d 1261 (Ind.App. 2006), Court of Appeals of Indiana, Aug. 10, 2006.

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