Important Legal Decisions
Nobriga v. Raybestos-Manhattan, 67 Hawai’i 158 (1983) (The first asbestos mesothelioma verdict/judgment in Hawai’i was affirmed on appeal.)
Carvalho v Raybestos-Manhattan, 794 F.2d 454 (9th Cir. 1986); Carvalho v Johns-Manville, 871 F.2d 891 (9th Cir. 1989); In re Asbestos Cases, 847 F.2d 523 (9th Cir. 1988). In this series of appeals, the federal courts held that if asbestos manufacturers wanted to argue that asbestos claims were filed too late then they had the burden to prove three things (i) the asbestos victim knew his or her cancer was asbestos related, and (ii) knew that the manufacturers violated a duty to him or her, and (iii) the causal relation between the first 2 elements. This was the opposite of rulings in some other courts that were throwing out asbestos lawsuits when the person did not file suit shortly after his asbestos exposure ended.
Johnson v Raybestos-Manhattan, 69 Hawai’i 157, 740 P.2d 548 (1987) and Johnson v Raybestos-Manhattan, 829 F.2d 907 (9th Cir. 1987). In these companion appellate decisions, the federal and state courts ruled that asbestos manufacturers could not claim ignorance that their asbestos products caused cancer as a defense to claims they were liable for their defective products.
Hao v Owens-Illinois, 69 Hawai’i 231, 738 P.2d 416 (1987). In this case, the appellate court agreed that the asbestos manufacturer was liable for at least its own percentage fault, and not a complete “take nothing” defense, if the jury found a lung cancer victim 51% at fault for smoking. Thus another defense claimed by asbestos manufacturers was stricken on appeal.
Hawai’i Federal Asbestos Cases, 980 F.2d 806 (9th Cir. 1992). This case is a virtual magna carta for Navy and Shipyard asbestos victims. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the asbestos manufacturers were not entitled to the Superseding Cause defense, nor the military contract defense, and asbestos claimants did not have to use a heightened standard to prove asbestos exposure to their products. Also, joint and several liability was affirmed against asbestos manufacturers.