NJ Court Again Holds Exxon Liable for Spouse Asbestos Exposure

August 25, 2010 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A New Jersey appellate court has upheld a $7.5-million jury award to a former Exxon worker and his spouse, holding Exxon liable for the spouse’s asbestos exposure.

Business Insurance reports that Bonnie Anderson and her husband alleged that Mrs. Anderson contracted mesothelioma from her own 12-year employment working at an Exxon refinery and laundering her husband’s work clothes during his employment with Exxon from 1969 to 2003.   

According to the news report, Exxon argued that Mrs. Anderson’s claim was barred by the exclusive remedy provisions in New Jersey’s workers compensation law, but the appellate court agreed with a trial court analysis that a “dual persona doctrine” applies when an employer undertakes “a completely separate and independent role with respect to the employee,” as was the case with Mrs. Anderson’s nonoccupational asbestos exposure.  

In 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld a state appellate court decision that in addition to its duty to protect workers from the risks of asbestos exposure, Exxon Mobil had a duty to protect their spouses (see NJ High Court Extends Employer Liability for Asbestos Risks).  

The appellate court’s opinion is here.