Asbestos Co. Loses in CA Appeal Court

California Asbestos Victims Could Sue Canadian Asbestos Maker

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — September 1, 1998 — Brayton Purcell LLP represented ten California victims of asbestos-containing products who sued Cassiar Mining Corp., a Canadian asbestos company. Cassiar tried to avoid the reach of the California courts. It argued that the plaintiffs could not prove that the asbestos-containing products to which they were exposed came from plants in California.

The Fourth Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal held that Cassiar could indeed be sued by California plaintiffs within the state, even if they could not prove that their injuries were caused by California–made products (Cassiar Mining Corp. v. Superior Court (1998) 66 Cal.App.4th 550, 78 Cal.Rptr.2d 167). Cassiar’s 38–year history of doing business in California was more than sufficient to create legal jurisdiction, and the company should have reasonably expected the California lawsuits, the Court said.

Cassiar Mining Corp. was founded in 1951 to mine, mill, and sell raw asbestos. It sold thousands of tons of raw asbestos to industry giants such as Johns–Manville, Fibreboard, and CertainTeed for their plants in California. Cassiar ceased operations in 1991, followed by bankruptcy and dissolution.

The Cassiar ruling helped strengthen the rights of plaintiffs by lowering the barriers that make it difficult for injured persons to sue large, often–far away companies.