Earlier this week, a French appeals court upheld a November 2006 ruling which stated that French tire maker, Michelin Company, negligently exposed workers to hazardous levels of asbestos during the 1960s and 1970s.
According to an article in Forbes, the November 16, 2006 decision, originally made by the Tribunal des affaires de Sécurité Sociale (TASS) in Clermont-Ferrand, concerned four former Michelin employees, three of whom had already died of mesothelioma, asbestos-caused cancer. The current appeals court decision applies to the three deceased employees; a decision in the case of the fourth man has not yet been reached.
During the original trial, attorneys for Michelin claimed that the asbestos exposure occurred during a time period when most individuals, including company executives, were not aware of the hazards of working with asbestos. The jury, instead, found that executives were most likely attuned to the dangers of working with the toxic mineral but did nothing to protect their employees.
The Forbes article notes that, together, the men used asbestos to insulate 1,400 meters (about 4,600 feet) of pipes every month until 1973, when asbestos bans were suggested. No protective gear was worn nor was any offered to the men while they worked with the hazardous material on a daily basis.