Bare Metal Defense Does Not Apply To Negligence Claims Under Maritime Law U.S. Supreme Court, March 19, 2019

The U.S. Supreme Court held that manufacturers are liable for injuries caused by parts with asbestos that were subsequently added to their products by third parties, affirming the special protections extended to sailors under maritime law. The court reviewed the following question: “Can products-liability defendants be held liable under maritime law for injuries caused by products they did not make, sell, or distribute?”

In a case previously reported by the Asbestos Case Tracker, the court, in a 6-3 ruling, upheld a third circuit decision that a maker of an asbestos-free product can be held liable for injuries caused by asbestos if it could have reasonably known that an asbestos-containing part would be added afterwards by a third party. Under maritime law, a product manufacturer has a duty to warn when its product needs another part that the manufacturer knows is likely to be dangerous and that the manufacturer has no reason to believe that users will know about that danger.

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