On February 2, 2017, the Honorable Vivian L. Mednilla of the Superior Court of the State of Delaware, ruled that a manufacturer/supplier of asbestos containing component parts (i.e. paper), used by its customer (i.e. pipe manufacturer), does not owe a duty to warn the spouse of the customer’s employee as no special relationship exists between the supplier/manufacturer and the spouse. Ramsey v. The Georgia Southern University Advanced Development Center (Herty Foundation), CA N14C-01-287 ASB (Del. Super. J. Mednilla, Feb. 2, 2017). In so holding, the court agreed that the failure to warn is a claim of “non-feasance” and under Delaware law, a special relationship must exist between the defendant and plaintiff to establish the existence of a duty. Finding no special relationship between the manufacturer/supplier and the “take-home exposed” spouse, summary judgment was granted. The Judge, in accepting the defendants argument, expressed that the ruling is a logical extension of existing Delaware law which holds that an employer/premises owners and employer contractors owe no duty to warn spouses of their own employees on the basis that no special relationship existed between the employer/premises owner and spouse.
The case was presented by the Marks, O’Neill asbestos team in our Delaware office.