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Court: Firms have duty to protect households from asbestos

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The California Supreme Court says companies can be held liable for exposing members of a worker's household to asbestos.

The court ruled unanimously Thursday that companies have a responsibility to prevent such exposure when they can reasonably forsee that their employees will carry asbestos on their bodies or clothing to their households.

The court limited responsibility to members of a worker's household and no one beyond that. The ruling came in two separate lawsuits — one of them against BNSF Railway Company by the family of a woman who died of cancer. The family said the woman's ex-husband — a railway employee — exposed her to asbestos from his job, and the asbestos caused her cancer.

A BNSF spokesman referred comment to a colleague, who did not immediately respond.

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