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Temple-Inland Products Corporation v. Carter

Supreme Court of Texas
993 S.W.2d 88 (1999)


Facts

Martin Carter, Sr. and Larry Wilson (plaintiffs) worked for Biskamp Electric. Temple-Inland Products Corporation (TIPC) (defendant) hired Biskamp Electric to install electric outlets and computer jacks in a laboratory. In performing the work, Carter and Wilson drilled holes in laboratory countertops. Unbeknownst to Carter and Wilson, the countertops contained asbestos. Consequently, Carter and Wilson inhaled asbestos fibers for several weeks during the project. Nearly two years later, Carter and Wilson were examined by a physician who concluded that neither man had developed any asbestos-related disease. Carter and Wilson filed suit against TIPC for mental-anguish damages. Carter and Wilson alleged that TIPC failed to inform them that the countertops contained asbestos. During a deposition, the physician testified that neither Carter nor Wilson currently suffered from any disease but that each had a high risk for developing some ailment in the future. The trial court granted TIPC’s motion for summary judgment on the claims for actual and punitive damages. Carter and Wilson appealed. A divided court of appeals reversed the actual damages claim, concluding that Carter and Wilson could recover mental anguish damages based upon a reasonable fear of developing a future illness. The Supreme Court of Texas granted certiorari to review.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hecht, J.)

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