Product News and Recalls

Employer, manufacturer faulted in asbestos-related cancer case

An opinion piece in the Seattle Times concerns a shipyard worker diagnosed with mesothelioma – a type of cancer associated with asbestos exposure – and faults both the shipyard that employs him and the manufacturer of respirators used there for failing to adequately warn him.

The piece cites a case from the Washington Supreme Court, concerning a tool keeper at Todd Shipyards in Seattle named Leo Macias.

From 1978 to 2004, the piece says, Macias’ job involved taking respirators from shipyard workers who had been working with asbestos and were finishing their shifts.

He would throw the respirators into a basket, sometimes causing “little poofs of dust.” Later, he would go through the respirators, take out the dusty filters and throw them away.

In 2008, Macias was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He claimed he was never warned about the risks of asbestos exposure.

The Seattle Times says: “If you’ve got an employee chucking respirators into a bin and making ‘little poofs’ of asbestos dust, you have a responsibility to correct that. And not in 10 or 20 years. Right away.”

The respirator manufacturer argued that the company had no responsibility, since it did not place the asbestos dust on the filters.

But the Seattle Times calls that a “lame argument.” The Court’s majority argued that since the respirators were designed to be used with asbestos, the risk to a worker cleaning them was inherent and the manufacturer had a duty to warn him.

“That a case like this would happen at a major Seattle employer in the late 20th and early 21st century is shameful,” the piece says. “We can do better than this.”

If you or a loved one have contracted mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure, contact Lopez McHugh for a free consultation.