Asbestos In School Buildings Strict Liability

The case of San Francisco Unified School Dist. v. W.R. Grace & Co. (1995) presented the issue in the hybrid context of a statute of limitations question regarding the plaintiffs' ability to state a claim arising from the presence of asbestos materials used in construction of the school building. Noting the limitations period did not begin to run until damage occurred, the court considered "what constitutes the element of damage for purposes of strict liability and negligence." (Id. at p. 1327.) It stated, "Until physical injury occurs until damage rises above the level of mere economic loss a plaintiff cannot state a cause of action for strict liability or negligence." (Ibid., fn. omitted.) The Grace court defined economic loss as: "The diminution in value of the product because it is inferior in quality and does not work for the general purposes for which it was manufactured and sold. . . . ' It generally means pecuniary damage that occurs through loss of value or use of the goods sold or the cost of repair together with consequential lost profits when there has been no claim of personal injury or damage to other property." ' . . ." (Grace, supra, 37 Cal. App. 4th at p. 1327, fn. 5).