Supreme Court hears “bare-metal” asbestos case

Modern asbestos litigation has been described as an unending quest for the solvent defendant. Air and Liquid Systems v. DeVries, argued in October before the Supreme Court, presents the question of whether to permit suits against companies that made products containing no asbestos, “on the grounds that they had reason to foresee that the mineral would be used in conjunction with the products they did make.” I discuss the case in this new Reason piece.

More coverage of the oral argument from Brandi Buchman, Courthouse News and Ronald Mann, SCOTUSBlog reporting before and after. See also Robert H. Wright, Washington Legal Foundation; Federalist Society link roundup and video with Justin Torres of King and Spalding (& welcome SCOTUSBlog readers).


  • We might call this the any-pockets theory of legal liability. How about the grocery store that sold groceries to the workers or the executives? What if my company sold refrigerators to the grocery store that sold groceries to the workers at the company that made the metal that was then sold to the company that made the asbestos? At what point is this whole thing just a ludicrous money grab.

    • “At what point is this whole thing just a ludicrous money grab.”

      About 30 years ago…

  • Of course. Asbestos paraphernalia. Why didn’t they think of it sooner? It’s been a staple of the drug war for decades. I’ll bet some companies advertised saw blades for asbestos sheets by promising “minimal dust.” Or maybe their cheapest shipping method for asbestos spray coating required batch mixing by the end user. These companies were all part of the asbestos applications industry. Without them, well it just couldn’t have been done without them.

  • Go for the really deep pockets – sue the governments that maintained the roads that the refrigerators (see above) were shipped on. And the companies that made the trucks. And the “Get Your Class A License” driver training schools. And the… oh, hell, just sue everybody.