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Court Limits Retroactive Liability in Asbestos Case

COLUMBUS, Ohio (CN) - The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that its 1977 decision holding non-manufacturing sellers liable for defective products does not apply retroactively.

The high court acknowledged that most Ohio court decisions apply retroactively, but said the courts have the discretion to apply their decisions "only prospectively" after weighing certain considerations.

Those considerations include: "(1) whether the decision establishes a new principle of law that was not foreshadowed in prior decisions; (2) whether retroactive application of the decision promotes or retards the purpose behind the rule defined in the decision; and (3) whether retroactive application of the decision causes an inequitable result."

The ruling bars the relatives of a steelworker who died from exposure to asbestos in the insulation at Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel Corp. from suing Hamilton Inc., which supplied the insulation but did not make it. Joseph DiCenzo had worked at the steel mill from the 1950s to 1993.

DiCenzo died in 1999 from an asbestos-related illness.

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