On June 30, 2022, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that, in asbestos matters, there is an obligation on the manufacturer or supplier to provide an “adequate” warning, not only to companies they supply, but to the end user as well. In Fowler v. Akzo Nobel Chemicals (No. 085939, 2022 WL 2349452 [N.J. June 30, 2022]), the court reinstated a $2.38 million verdict against Union Carbide, finding they failed to adequately warn the end user of the hazards of asbestos. “In cases involving the use of asbestos in the workplace, we have held that an asbestos manufacturer or supplier has a dual duty to provide adequate warnings of risks of the product to both the employee and the employer.” Id. at 5.
In Fowler, the plaintiff died from mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos in a manufacturing plant where he worked for approximately 40 years. Defendant Union Carbide in 1968 began placing warnings on its bags of asbestos which stated “WARNING: BREATHING DUST MAY BE HARMFUL DO NOT BREATHE DUST.” Id. at 7. Thereafter, in 1972, in accordance with the emergency standard imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Union Carbide changed the warning label to “CAUTION Contains Asbestos Fibers Avoid Creating Dust Breathing Asbestos Dust May Cause Serious Bodily Harm.” Id.