Ronald Lunsford said his father worked for the Brower Company in 1958 at a Texaco refinery in Anacortes, Wash. and frequently returned home from work with asbestos dust on his clothes, hat, car, and tools. Lundsford claimed he was exposed to that dust.
Years later, Lunsford was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Because he had been exposed to asbestos over a number of years from a variety of sources, Lunsford sued several parties, including Saberhagen Holdings Inc., which was the successor of Brower. Lunsford alleged Brower/Saberhagen provided asbestoscontaining insulation to the refinery where his father worked, and that Saberhagen should be held strictly liable for any injuries caused to him by the Brower asbestos.
Saberhagen asked the Washington trial court to grant judgment before trial, asserting the company could not be held strictly liable for Lunsford's injuries because he was not a user of the asbestos products. Product-liability law provides for strict liability for "one who sells any product in a defective condition reasonably dangerous to the user or consumer," and makes the seller liable "for physical harm thereby caused to the ultimate user or consumer."
The trial court concluded that Lunsford was not a user of Saberhagen's asbestos, thus granted its request for summary judgment. Lunsford appealed to the Washington Court of Appeals, which noted some state courts expand the coverage of the product-liability law to include bystanders and other persons the manufacturer could reasonably foresee would come into contact with its product. The court reinstated Lunsford's claim stating, "The question for the jury is whether it was reasonable for the manufacturer to foresee that Lunsford would be exposed to its product through his father."
At trial, the court noted Lunsford had the burden of showing it was foreseeable he would come into contact with Saberhagen's product, the product was unreasonably dangerous, and he was injured by the product.
Lunsford v. Saberhagen Holdings Inc., 106 P.3d 808 (Wash.App. 2005), Court of Appeals of Washington, Feb. 14, 2005.