Product Liability -- 2016

Rost v. Ford Motor Co.   (Pennsylvania Supreme Court)

Challenging "any exposure" theory in asbestos case

The NAM and 3 other associations filed an amicus brief in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court urging it to reverse a trial court ruling that allowed expert testimony on causation without requiring an assessment of the dose required to cause injury or identifying how much exposure occurred here. We argued that it is not enough for experts to speculate that any exposure is enough to find liability. Instead, experts have a scientific obligation to help the jury sort out impactful occupational exposures from those will little effect. In this case, a maintenance worker doing non-asbestos work thirty feet from brake repair work over a three-month period was sufficient causation evidence.

Evidence that "any exposure" is sufficient to find liability results in "speculative causation determinations that time and again have proven to be wrong and have caused considerable harm." The asbestos docket in the courts today is rife with irrational speculation about disease causation, contrary to a variety of epidemiological studies. This is particularly true for cases involving vehicle mechanics.

The court on 11/22/16 upheld the $1 million jury verdict based on testimony that every exposure during the 3-month period cumulatively contributed to the worker's mesothelioma. The court did not reverse previous precedents that barred the "any exposure" theory of causation, but found the testimony of cumulative exposure sufficient in this case.

Related Documents:
NAM amicus brief  (January 20, 2015)


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