In the emerging issue of third-party liability, recent rulings by the high courts of New York state and Georgia, and a case pending before the New Jersey Supreme Court, may provide some insight as to the direction other state supreme courts may follow.
In late October 2005, New York’s highest court found that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey owed no duty of care to the plaintiff – the wife of a former Port Authority worker who alleged she contracted mesothelioma from laundering her husband’s asbestos-soiled clothes. Holdampf, et al. v. A.C. & S., Inc., et al., & The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, No. 135, N.Y., Oct. 27, 2005. The ruling was the second such decision from a state’s top court this year, following the lead of the Supreme Court of Georgia’s January holding in a similar case. CSX Transportation v. Williams, 278 Ga. 888. In the time between these two decisions, a third case, in New Jersey’s Appellate Division, expanded employer liability. That case, Olivo v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, 377 N.J. Super. 286, 872 A.2d 814, which is pending before the state’s supreme court, is valuable for possible litigation strategies in other states.
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