Hetzel v. Hennessy Industries, Inc.

Manufacturer of auto brake forming tools is strictly liable for worker’s injury caused by breathing asbestos dust while using the tools in the intended manner on asbestos-laced auto brakes, even though manufacturer did not make the brakes.  Following Sherman v. Hennessy Industries, Inc. (2015) 237 Cal.App.4th 1133, this decision holds that the manufacturer of auto brake forming and arcing equipment could be held strictly liable to the plaintiff whose decedent developed asbestosis from exposure to asbestos dust while using defendant’s tools.  While the tools themselves contained no asbestos and could be used to form non-asbestos containing brake shoes, in fact nearly all auto brake shoes available in the market at the time plaintiff’s decedent began using defendant’s tool contained asbestos.  Using the tool on the brake linings released clouds of asbestos dust, which plaintiff’s decedent inhaled as he worked on the brakes.  Defendant therefore may be held strictly liable for the injury to decedent from the asbestos dust though it did not manufacture the brake linings that contained the asbestos.

California Court of Appeal, First District, Division 1 (Margulies, J.); April 28, 2016 (published May 17, 2016); 2016 WL 1745563


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