Macias v. Saberhagen Holdings, Inc.Annotate this Case
Plaintiff Leo Macias worked as a tool keeper in a shipyard and his job required that he maintain respirators that other workers wore to filter out dangerous contaminants. Plaintiff and his wife Patricia brought this suit against the respirator manufacturers, alleging that cleaning and maintaining the respirators exposed Mr. Macias to asbestos, causing him to develop mesothelioma. The plaintiffs claimed that the manufacturers owed a duty to warn Mr. Macias of the danger that he could be exposed to harmful asbestos dust when he cleaned and maintained the respirators. The respirator manufacturers moved for summary judgment on the ground that as a matter of law they owed no duty to warn. The trial court denied the motion. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that under Washington case law the defendants did not owe a duty to warn because they did not manufacture the asbestos-containing products that were the source of the asbestos to which Mr. Macias was exposed. Upon review, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals. In the two precedential cases, the Court held that generally a manufacturer does not have a duty to warn of the dangers inherent in a product that it does not manufacture, sell, or supply. However, "Simonetta" and "Braaten" did not control in this case because the duty at issue was to warn of the danger of asbestos exposure inherent in the use and maintenance of the defendant manufacturers’ own products- - the respirators.