Courts “tighten reins” on asbestos cases

Courts throughout the country are moving away from the cumulative exposure theory for asbestos cases.

Courts throughout the country are tightening the reins on the evidence needed to establish that a victim was exposed to asbestos. This was most recently highlighted in a case out of Florida.

What did this case establish?

This case specifically questioned whether or not the "each and every exposure" theory, also referred to as the "cumulative exposure" theory, is an acceptable way for a victim to establish that he or she suffers from a disease caused by exposure to asbestos. This theory essentially states that any exposure to asbestos is hazardous and can lead to serious injury. As such, the actual amount of asbestos a victim is exposed to is irrelevant. As long as this exposure was greater than is naturally occurring, it would be sufficient to support a claim.

This theory can ease the legal process for those who suffer from serious illnesses known to be connected to asbestos exposure - illnesses like mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. Without this theory, the victim would likely have to take more complicated steps to establish that asbestos exposure occurred and led to the injury in question.

Instead of allowing a claim to move forward based on this theory, the court in Crane Co. v. DeLisle stated that the victim must meet the elements put forth in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceutical, Inc.

How are victims supposed to prove that they were exposed to asbestos?

Daubert was a case decided in 1993 by the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS). This holding was intended to help determine what makes scientific evidence valid and admissible in a court case. SCOTUS provided four elements that should be taken into consideration when determining whether or not the evidence should be admitted in these circumstances.

Essentially, SCOTUS asked trial judges to take the following questions in consideration when determining whether or not to admit certain types of evidence:

  • Can it withstand testing? It is important that the theory or technique provided can withstand testing. If not, it should not be admitted.
  • Was it reviewed? The scientific method should also be subject to peer review.
  • How bad is the rate of error? Certain rates of error are acceptable, others are not. The trial judge should take this into consideration.
  • Is this method accepted? The trial judge should also consider whether or not the method is widely accepted.

If the trial court is not satisfied with the answers to these questions, admission of the evidence may be denied.

Why is this case important for all victims, regardless of which state they reside?

Florida is just one of many states throughout the country that has chosen to apply the Daubert method to asbestos cases. These cases are available to anyone that was injured by asbestos exposure and can lead to monetary compensation to help cover the high costs associated with treatment.

This case highlights the need for those who are suffering from mesothelioma or other asbestos related diseases to take the process of establishing exposure to asbestos seriously. It is often wise to seek the counsel of an experienced asbestosis and lung cancer attorney to help better ensure a more favorable outcome.