New Jersey Law Needs Clarification to Move Asbestos Litigation Forward, Says Behrens

Shook Public Policy Co-Chair Mark Behrens told Law360 that businesses should not be held responsible for products they did not make, “NJ Justices to Pick Up Pieces of Asbestos Liability Puzzle.”

 The New Jersey Supreme Court is exploring the definition of “product” which has divided appellate courts on whether companies should be held responsible for asbestos-containing components they did not build or distribute.

“You need clarification in the law so that these cases can either be disposed of on summary judgment or they….advance forward in the litigation,” Behrens told Law360. “Nobody knows what the law is right now until the New Jersey Supreme Court clarifies and tells them.”

At issue is a 2018 appellate division ruling that may hold manufacturers liable for the “failure to warn about the risks of asbestos in components required for work, regardless of whether they build or sold those parts.”

Behrens disagrees with the ruling.

“They didn’t earn a profit on the original sale of that replacement part product. Some other company made the money on it. But now you’re asking them to pay the bill,” Behrens said. “So there is that unfair aspect in it.”

In addition, The Wall Street Journal reported on Behrens when he addressed Maryland legislators on behalf of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform regarding a separate asbestos issue.