On July 11, 2011, the Delaware Supreme Court issued a 3-to-2 divided opinion in Price v. E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. which addresses the issue of a landowner’s duty in a so-called “take-home” asbestos exposure case, in which the injured party is allegedly exposed to asbestos fibers brought home from work by his or her spouse. The Price opinion is available here. In its decision, the Price Court concluded that a landowner is merely nonfeasant – not misfeasant – with respect to the injured party in such cases. In accordance with the Restatement (Second) of Torts, the Court held that a landowner is only liable when it is in a “special relationship” with the injured party. In its holding, the Delaware Supreme Court resolved questions that were left open in the Court’s 2009 Riedel v. ICI Americas Inc. opinion.
As a practical matter, this decision will not have a significant impact on the Delaware asbestos litigation, given that most of the asbestos cases filed in Delaware are governed by the substantive law of another jurisdiction. Nonetheless, this case is important in that it contributes to the growing body of case law on the question of duty in take-home asbestos exposure cases. Consequently, a more detailed analysis of the Price opinion, including the case’s procedural history and a summary of the Riedel decision, is provided after the jump.