Thursday, December 3, 2015

Anderson v. Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp. case brief

Anderson v. Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp. case brief
1991 California Supreme 
Facts: Defendants were manufacturers of products containing asbestos; plaintiff alleged that he contracted asbestosis through exposure to asbestos and asbestos products while working as an electrician. Plaintiff supposedly encountered asbestos while working near others who were removing and installing insulation products on ships. After defendant won, trial court granted a new trial and parties argued on appeal the admissibility of state of the art evidence in failure to warn case. 
Reasoning: The issue is a question of if the manufacturer knew or should have known of the risk by application of scientific knowledge at the time of manufacturer or distribution. California courts have held up until this point, that actual or constructive knowledge is necessary for a failure to warn defect theory.  Some courts want knowledge or knowability to be a condition of strict liability for failure to warn though California has not decided that yet. 
The court said that strict liability is not absolute liability and manufacturer is not the insurer of its product. Court thinks that you cannot warn of a danger that is not known and if they were held to that standard, all manufacturers would start putting up labels and warnings that are practically useless and accomplish nothing. Reasonableness of a defendants conduct is immaterial, if the defendant knew or should have known of a risk given the best scientific knowledge of the time 
Gave an example where a manufacturer’s reasonableness might escape liability; makes sure that manufacturer’s warn people of the dangers of their products so people do not get harmed. A defendant can stop liability by showing inability to know the dangers of a particular product.

Holding: A plaintiff must prove only that the defendant did not adequately warn of a particular risk that was known or knowable in light of the generally recognized and prevailing best scientific and medical knowledge available at time of manufacture or distribution, reasonableness is not considered. 

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