Rondon 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.  The plaintiff need not show that the tool could only be used with asbestos lined brakes, only that such use was inevitable given prevailing market conditions and that the tool manufacturer profited from that use.  In those circumstances it was fair that the manufacturer share liability for the injuries its tools caused when used on asbestos-lined brakes.

California Court of Appeal, First District, Division 4 (Ruvolo, P.J.); May 9, 2016 (published June 7, 2016); 2016 WL 3180979

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