Justice Brett Kavanaugh, recently appointed to the Supreme Court, is still hearing an asbestos case, which is one of the first cases he has heard in his new position. The case, Air and Liquid Systems Corp. v. DeVries, went to oral arguments on October 10, 2018.
The case was filed by the widows of Navy sailors that are seeking justice involving the exposure of asbestos to their husbands.
A group of Navy sailors are suing Air & Liquid Systems, along with other companies, that had manufactured equipment for the Navy that contained asbestos. The case is unique because it occurred at sea, leaving the jurisdiction out of any state and is the authority of the Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh, along with the rest of the Supreme Court, will need to determine if the companies will be held liable for the injuries caused by asbestos. Key points in the case suggest that the companies being mentioned did not make, sell or distribute the asbestos products.
Third-party companies, most bankrupt at this point, installed asbestos insulation after the machinery was purchased by the Navy.
Air & Liquid Systems won a 2014 case in Philadelphia, but the case was remanded in 2017 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The U.S. Navy and armed forces are immune from liability for any conditions of military vessels.
The attorneys for the widows claim that the manufacturer of the equipment knew that asbestos needed to be installed for the machinery to work properly.
Kavanaugh’s record has many widows concerned. He has previously ruled against environmental issues, such as water, mercury and air pollution. The EPA has also announced a new use rule for asbestos that allows for new uses after review from the agency.
The case questions whether defendants can be held liable for injuries on products that they did not sell, distribute or make despite knowing that these products were necessary for the machinery to function safely.