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Texas Does Not Recognize Fear of Disease as Tort Except in Rare Cases
Description Worker exposed to asbestos at work, but not suffering from asbestos-related disease, cannot maintain tort action for mental distress based on fear of disease. Absent actual disease, Texas allows recovery for mental anguish only in limited circumstances.
Topic Torts
Key Words Products Liability; Fear of Disease
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Carter was unknowingly exposed to asbestos fibers for about a month while working on an industrial renovation project. His physician concluded, a year later, that there was no asbestos-related disease present, but Carter sued the company where he did the work for mental anguish based on fear of the disease. Trial court granted defendant summary judgment. Carter appealed.
Decision Affirmed. "Absent physical injury, the common law has not allowed recovery for negligent infliction of emotional distress except in specific, limited circumstances." The claim here does not fall in such category. There is no doubt that Carter suffered from exposure to asbestos and suffers anxiety from that exposure. "Indeed, most Americans are daily subjected to toxic substances in the air they breathe and the food they eat." That does not provide basis for suit.
Citation Temple-Inland Products Corp. v. Carter, 993 S.W.2d 88 (Sup. Ct., Tex., 1999)

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