(CN) – The family of a man who died of asbestos exposure from his work on a Navy ship won reinstatement of their claims against the makers of the vessel’s steam valves and pumps, in a California appeals court.
After Patrick O’Neil died of mesothelioma, his wife and children sued Crane Co. and Warren Pumps for alleged negligence and product liability.
O’Neil worked in the boiler room of the U.S.S. Oriskany from June 1965 to August 1966. The steam valves and pumps on the ships, which were manufactured by the defendants, contained asbestos.
During trial, one of O’Neil’s shipmates testified that during the maintenance and re-packing processes, there was no way to avoid the asbestos dust that floated around the room.
The defendants argued that the products were not defective, but only produced asbestos during maintenance, which was under Navy supervision. The lower court accepted this “component parts” defense, but the Los Angeles-based Second District Court of Appeal did not.
“We cannot see that respondent’s pumps and valves are component parts under this body of law,” Justice Armstrong wrote. “Component part manufacturers are exempt from liability because they make multi-use or fungible products, designed to be incorporated into some other product.”
The justice added: “Here in contrast, respondents did not supply a ‘building block’ material, dangerous only when incorporated into a final product over which they had no control.”