Dicenzo v. A-Best Products

Date: August 11, 2011

Ohio Supreme Court

The subject appeal gets to the issue of how far back a supplier defendant may be subject to strict liability.  In Dicenzo, the Ohio appellate court found that a supplier may be strictly liable for any asbestos product sales after June 1966.  The court's decision to set 1966 as the trigger year to begin strict liability for suppliers - rather than 1977 - has enormous practical importance.  By 1977, asbestos exposure was being heavily regulated by OSHA; in 1966, asbestos sales were much greater. Thee bankruptcy filings of almost all former manufacturers will make it likely that plaintiffs will begin targeting solvent non-manufacturing suppliers if a claim can easily be brought.

Status:  DECIDED.   On 10/22/08 the court adopted the position set forth in NFIB’s amicus brief, which argued that retroactive application of strict liability to non-manufacturing suppliers would result in injustice.  The court's decision is significant because it means that non-manufacturing sellers (i.e., wholesalers, distributors, and retailers) will not be subject to strict liability in the vast majority of Ohio asbestos cases, since those cases typically allege exposure to products sold before 1977.

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