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Lathe Manufacturer Not Liable for Asbestos Death, Court Rules

The maker of lathes and other machineries used on asbestos-containing brake linings of vehicles is not liable for an auto mechanic’s death, an appeals court said in a 2-1 ruling on Tuesday.

The ruling by the Los Angeles Second District Court of Appeal came two weeks following a San Francisco appeals court reinstated the litigation filed by other asbestos exposure victims against Hennessy Industries, the manufacturer named in this case. The dispute may move to Supreme Court.

In 1989, the government sought to prohibit asbestos in products, but the restriction was overturned by the court. As a result, asbestos is still present in brake shoes.

The Tuesday ruling upheld a federal court ruling of dismissing a wrongful deal lawsuit filed by the relatives of Richard Baker, a mechanic who died after developing lung cancer and asbestosis in 2008. The suit stated that Barker unknowingly breathed in asbestos fibers released from brakes processed in lathes and arcing machines manufactured by Ammco Tools, a Hennessy subsidiary. The court ruled that tool makers are liable for hazards caused only when their tools were utilized for intended purpose.