Pulmosan Safety Equipment Corporation v. Barnes

752 So. 2d 556 (2000)

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Pulmosan Safety Equipment Corporation v. Barnes

Florida Supreme Court
752 So. 2d 556 (2000)

Facts

Earl Barnes (defendant), a sandblaster, used sand manufactured by Pulmosan Safety Equipment Corporation (PSEC) (plaintiff) for his sandblasting activities from 1972 through 1974. PSEC’s sand contained silica dust. In 1984, Barnes’s left lung was surgically removed because he had contracted actinomycosis, a fungal lung infection caused by silicosis. Silicosis is a lung disease caused by exposure to silica dust. Barnes did not know that actinomycosis was related to silica-dust exposure until 1992, and Barnes did not receive a confirmed silicosis diagnosis until 1995. Barnes then filed a products-liability lawsuit against PSEC, alleging that because PSEC’s sand contained silica dust, it had caused or contributed to his silicosis and related lung removal. PSEC challenged, arguing that Barnes’s claim was barred by the 12-year statute of repose applicable to products-liability actions. Florida’s products-liability statute of repose was repealed in 1986; however, it was still applicable to claims arising from pre-repeal tortious conduct. The trial court dismissed Barnes’s claim, holding that it was time-barred. Barnes appealed. The appellate court reversed, holding that Barnes’s claim was not time-barred because (1) Barnes’s silicosis was a latent injury; and (2) the latent-injury exception therefore stopped the running of the applicable 12-year statute of repose until Barnes received the confirmed silicosis diagnosis in 1995. PSEC appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, arguing that the latent-injury exception did not apply to the products-liability statute of repose.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Pariente, J.)

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