Maryland’s high court has held that a woman exposed as a child in the late 1960s to asbestos on her grandfather’s clothing could not recover for the mesothelioma she allegedly contracted from the company whose products, used at his workplace, contained asbestos. Ga. Pac., LLC, f/k/a Ga.-Pac. Corp. v. Farrar, No. 102, Sept. Term 2012 (Md., decided July 8, 2013). Two lower courts had determined that the manufacturer owed the granddaughter a duty to warn about the purported danger of contact with the asbestos dust in her grandfather’s clothes during laundering and awarded her in excess of $5 million.
The Maryland Court of Appeals reversed, however, finding no duty to warn household members about secondhand exposure because (i) knowledge about potential risks to them was “somewhat skimpy” before 1972, when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued regulations addressing the problem of tracking asbestos dust on clothing into the home; (ii) companies would have been unable to directly warn household members about the purported risk “in an era before home computers and social media”; and (iii) without changing, washing and laundering facilities in the workplace, any warning provided by an asbestos manufacturer would have been ineffective to avoid the potential danger of in-home exposure from laundering work clothes.