Tennessee Supreme Court makes landmark ruling in ALCOA asbestos case

ALCOA, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A landmark decision from the Tennessee Supreme Court could change how asbestos claims are litigated across the nation.

Here at home, it allows a Blount County man to continue a $10 million lawsuit against ALCOA.

At issue is whether an employer is responsible if a toxic substance is spread from the workplace to family.

The Tennessee Supreme Court says yes and then some.

Doug Satterfield and his daughter Amanda began their battle against ALCOA after she was diagnosed with a rare cancer in 2003.

Although she died two years later, the decision clears the way for him to fight on.

Satterfield says, "What a wonderful birthday present for my daughter. She would be 29 years old Sunday."

Doug Satterfield's spirits have turned 180 degrees after the Tennessee Supreme court ruled Thursday his case against Alcoa Incorporated could move forward after a trial judge dismissed it two-and-a half years ago.

Satterfield sued ALCOA in 2003 when his daughter, Amanda, contracted a rare form of cancer known as mesotheleoma.

It's linked to asbestos.

He claims he came in contact with asbestos while working for years at ALCOA, and his daughter came into contact with it when he brought asbestos home on his clothing.

Satterfield says, "I was a vessel that put asbestos in her body."

The trial judge claimed Alcoa did not have a duty of care extending to family but the Tennessee Supreme Court reversed and revised that opinion to include those who car pool, baby sitters, and domestic help.

Satterfield’s attorney Greg Coleman says, "But it could also go to anyone who has a close and consistent contact with someone with asbestos on their clothing over an extended period of time."

Coleman says attorneys may now argue other toxic substances and chemicals besides asbestos can be substituted in cases.

Coleman says, "Other jurisdictions look at what states like Tennessee, what other states do in making a determination about how they view a duty of care."

But for Doug Satterfield, the ruling means a jury may get to listen to him.

Satterfield says, "I may die before I see the end of this case but my daughter knows, my other daughter knows too, to carry on this fight."

Concerning the Court’s ruling, ALCOA spokesman Kevin Lowery says, “We are now being asked to take it to trial, and that's what we will do."

Attorney Greg Coleman says they plan to now begin the process of going back to the lower court, setting a trial date, conducting depositions, and then going to trial.

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