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Federal Court Certifies Question for Alabama Supreme Court on Duty and Causation for Take-Home Exposure Case

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Northeastern Division, June 22, 2015

In this case, the plaintiff claimed that the decedent was exposed to asbestos from laundering the clothing of her husband, who worked at a nuclear plant owned and operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, a federally created entity. The TVA moved to dismiss under Alabama law on the ground that it owed no duty to the decedent and general causation. This case contains an interesting discussion of the evolution of OSHA regulations and the duty and causation issues.

However, the federal court concluded that the issue of duty and causation were unsettled under Alabama law, so it decided to certify the questions and referred them to the Alabama Supreme Court. The certified questions are: “Whether a premises owner has a duty to protect the family members of persons who work on the property owner’s premises from secondary exposure to a toxic agent, such as asbestos, used during the course of the property owner’s business?” and “What causation standard applies when multiple exposures to a toxic agent, such as asbestos, combine to produce the plaintiff’s injury?”

Read the full decision here.

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