Boynton v. Kennecott
Boynton v. Kennecott, 2021 UT 40 (Himonas, J.)
A worker was exposed to asbestos on several job sites. His wife later died of mesothelioma. The worker sued the job site operators for indirectly exposing his wife to asbestos dust. The district court granted summary judgment to the job site operators, reasoning they had no duty to prevent take-home exposure. The Utah Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding:
- Premises owners have a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent take-home exposure to asbestos.
- Premises owners act affirmatively—and thus owe a duty of care in take-home asbestos exposure cases—when they have directed, required, or otherwise caused workers to come into contact with asbestos. Premises owners are not liable if they merely fail to prevent an employee from coming into contact with asbestos, such as if an employer fails to prevent the spread of asbestos from an adjacent worksite.
- The risk of take-home exposure from asbestos was foreseeable as early as 1961.
- In an analysis of whether a company is liable for the actions of an independent contractor because the company has retained control, a contractual provision may create sufficient control for a contracting party to retain control over another party.