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Duty in Arizona is based on either recognized common law special relationships or relationships created by public policy. Duties based on special relationships may arise from several sources, including special relationships recognized by the common law, contracts, or conduct undertaken by the defendant.
Ernest V. Quiroz died from mesothelioma, a form of cancer associated with exposure to asbestos. Quiroz's surviving wife, children, and parents (collectively, the “family”) filed a lawsuit, alleging Defendants Reynolds Metal Company, Alcoa, Inc., and Reywest Development Company negligently caused his death. Specifically, the family alleged that when Quiroz’s father was working at Reynolds' plant from 1948 until 1983, his clothes were contaminated with asbestos fibers. The family contended that when the father came home from work, Quiroz, who lived with the father as a minor from 1952 to 1970, was exposed to the asbestos fibers on the father’s clothes. The family further contended that the exposure eventually caused Quiroz’s mesothelioma. The family asserted that the defendants had a duty to protect Quiroz from exposure to take-home asbestos. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that it owed no duty to Quiroz. The superior court granted defendants’ motion, and the court of appeals affirmed. The family challenged the decision.
Did an employer, who used asbestos materials in its workplace before 1970, have a duty to protect the public from secondary asbestos exposure?
The court affirmed the judgment of the lower court, noting that duty in Arizona was based on either recognized common law special relationships or relationships created by public policy. In this case, the court held that the employer owed no duty to the public regarding secondary asbestos exposure because no common law special relationship existed requiring the employer to protect the public from secondary asbestos exposure. Moreover, the family failed to identify public policy giving rise to such a duty.