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Anderson v. Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp.

Supreme Court of California
810 P.2d 549 (Cal. 1991)


Facts

Carl Anderson (plaintiff) was exposed to asbestos by working with products manufactured by Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp. (Owens-Corning) (defendant). Anderson brought suit on a theory of strict products liability claiming, among other things, that Owens-Corning failed to properly warn of the dangers inherent in exposure to the products. Owens-Corning's pleadings raised a state-of-the-art defense, asserting that even the foremost scientists working at the time the products were sold could not have known the dangers of asbestos to users of Owens-Corning's products. Before trial, Anderson moved to preclude Owens-Corning from presenting state-of-the-art evidence, and the trial court granted the motion. Owens-Corning argued that if it was precluded from presenting the evidence, then Anderson should be precluded from proceeding on a failure-to-warn theory (on the grounds that the state of the art was the only defense to that theory). The trial court granted the motion. The jury returned a verdict for Owens-Corning, but the trial court granted a new trial after Anderson asserted that the court erroneously prevented him from presenting the failure-to-warn theory. The appellate court upheld the order granting a new trial. The appellate court noted that state-of-the-art evidence is not admissible in asbestos strict products-liability cases, including cases based on a failure-to-warn theory. The Supreme Court of California granted review. 

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Panelli, J.)

Concurrence (Broussard, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Mosk, J.)

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