As previously discussed here, the Tennessee Supreme Court heard oral arguments in January, 2008, in a case against an employer brought by its employee's daughter concerning her secondhand exposure to asbestos. Plaintiff Amanda Satterfield succumbed to mesothelioma at the age of 25.
While she was alive, Ms. Satterfield filed a negligence action against her father’s employer, alleging that the employer had negligently permitted her father to wear his asbestos-contaminated work clothes home from work, thereby regularly and repeatedly exposing her to asbestos fibers over an extended period of time. After Ms. Satterfield died, the Circuit Court for Blount County, Tennessee, permitted her father to be substituted as the personal representative of her estate. The employer moved for a judgment on the pleadings on the narrow ground that it owed no duty to its employee’s daughter. The trial court granted the motion. Ms. Satterfield’s father appealed the dismissal of his daughter’s wrongful death claim.
The Tennessee Court of Appeals reversed the trial court, and the Tennessee Supreme Court granted the employer’s application for permission to appeal to determine whether Ms. Satterfield’s complaint withstands a motion for judgment on the pleadings. The Court determined that it does because, under the facts alleged in the complaint, the employer owed a duty to those who regularly and for extended periods of time came into close contact with the asbestos-contaminated work clothes of its employees to prevent them from being exposed to a foreseeable and unreasonable risk of harm. The Tennessee Supreme Court decision can be found by clicking here, and the concurring/dissenting decisions can be found by clicking here.