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Fisher Scientific’s Duty to Warn Customers of the Dangers of Asbestos Exposure – The Buck Stops Here

gavel in courtroomIn a recent deposition, the former corporate safety director for Fisher Scientific – a man who testified that “the buck stopped with me” regarding the determination of whether any danger or hazard existed with any product that Fisher Scientific supplied to its customers – was questioned under oath about when did Fisher know about the dangers of asbestos and when if at all did it warn its customers.

Here is just a sampling of what  in our opinion  this deposition revealed . The entire deposition is posted on this site for you to draw your own conclusions  :

  • Regarding Fisher Scientific’s expertise on asbestos and its dangers?  The witness testified that he was the only person in the Corporate Safety Department, and stated repeatedly that he was not an expert on the issue of asbestos, and neither was anybody else at Fisher Scientific.  The witness testified that he’d never taken a single safety course that related to asbestos.
  • Regarding Fisher Scientific’s interest in making sure that the asbestos-containing items it sold in its catalogs were safe?  The witness testified that he never asked any supplier to the catalog of asbestos-containing products to prove that the products were safe for their intended uses, and he has no idea if the manufacturers ever conducted tests on the products.
  • Regarding education of Fisher Scientific’s sales staff?  The witness testified that he never spoke to the sales staff about asbestos.
  • Regarding his responses to a 1978 letter from concerned 7th grade school children worried that asbestos pads in the classroom might cause cancer? The testimony given by the witness as to how he would have responded to such “straightforward” questions from school children was painfully at odds with the responses actually provided to the children by the witness in 1978.
  • Regarding the impermissible use of language such as “OSHA Approved” “Meets OSHA Requirements” in Fisher Scientific’s catalogues?  The witness, during questioning by Fisher Scientific’s counsel, described the use of such language as “a lie so don’t say it.”
  • Regarding a 1978 letter to an OSHA Regional Administrator in which he states that several asbestos containing laboratory products do not ordinarily liberate airborne fibers – but can experience dusting through age and usage?  The witness testified that although the letter was signed by him, he was unfamiliar with the term “dusting” and believed the marketing department had “infused their language” with his letter.
  • Regarding monitoring of asbestos containing laboratory products (to determine whether they liberate asbestos fibers) prior to their entrance in the marketplace?  The witness testified that no monitoring was ever done during his tenure “because there’s no need to” including in the plants where Fisher Scientific manufactured asbestos-containing products.
  • Regarding corporate responsibility?  “If we gave you cancer, then we’re responsible.  If we didn’t give you cancer, we’re not responsible.” and “If I harmed you then I owe you; If I haven’t harmed you then leave me alone.”

You can read and decide in your own opinion as to the adequacy of Fisher Scientific’s understanding of its responsibility to warn customers of the dangers of exposure to asbestos.  Click here to read the entire deposition.

This is brought to you courtesy of our lawyer group at cprlaw.com.

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