In a products liability case with potential major ramifications, a divided New Jersey Supreme Court determined there was no distinction between original parts by manufacturers and distributors that contain asbestos and replacement parts containing the same by a third party that caused injury, and ultimately death, to a decades-long plumber—and so the manufacturer and distributor had a duty to warn of the dangers of both parts.

In a 5-2 decision, the court upheld an August 2018 appellate panel ruling in favor of plaintiff Arthur Whelan, who died from mesothelioma. There, Appellate Division Judge Heidi Currier found that Whelan had “presented sufficient evidence detailing his exposure to asbestos,” either from defendants’ original or replacement components or from a third party’s replacement components, to withstand summary judgment.

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