Regarding "State Laws Bar Some Asbestosis Victims From Legal Relief" (Nov. 4), there are two interesting points involving product liability. The first involves shared liability, as is the case with asbestosis.
It has been well documented that asbestos without cigarette smoking is quite benign; with smoking, very malignant.
So who is to blame--the smoker (tobacco farmer, cigarette manufacturer, distributor, retailer, ashtray manufacturer), or those involved with the asbestos chain from earth to the owner of the end product?
Secondly, why do the trial lawyers single out the firm that takes the product out of the ground and makes it available in the market as the villain? It seems that the responsibility ultimately lies with the worker.
He was given an order to work with asbestos and he had the option of accepting the order or rejecting the order.
In some cases it would mean that he had to look for work elsewhere. In other cases it would simply be reassignment to a different job. The next most culpable person would be the supervisor who assigned the worker to the job.
A third point is the fact that if a manufacturer is so foolish as to build a product that lasts a century and a worker is so careless as to incur an injury in association with that machine, he may sue the original manufacturer even if subsequent owners modify the machine making it more hazardous to operate.
In the brave new world of the future, all corporations will be obliged to liquidate every 10 years. Those who don't will be obliged to charge so much for their product that their product will no longer be competitive.