Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

The complexities in raising asbestos-related claims

Contrary to popular perception, not every asbestos claim will be successfully litigated in court. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has just ruled that a relationship between exposure and the development of asbestos-related disease.

Attorneys will now have to word their complaints concerning such diseases more specifically and with a certain degree of consistency. One justice stated his concerns regarding asbestos-related injuries as follows: "Simply put, one cannot simultaneously maintain that a single fiber among millions is substantially causative, while also conceding that a disease is dose-responsive."

The Pennsylvania lawsuit came about because of complaints of an automobile mechanic being exposed to asbestos through the brake linings that he repaired more than 40 years ago. This same individual claimed that such exposure was responsible for his contracting of mesothelioma. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court then decided to hear this matter to determine whether every single fiber of asbestos inhaled would also be "a substantial contributing factor to any asbestos-related disease."

What the automobile mechanic and been unable to do at the trial court level was to show that he had been exposed to any specific dose of asbestos while on the job. Because of this, justices hearing the case were reluctant to apply any analogy between asbestos exposure and cigarette smoking.

Certain justices argued that there would be "no scientific basis for concluding that a single cigarette of the potentially half-million a person might smoke in a lifetime is substantially causative of such person's lung cancer."

Though such a decision may create difficulties for certain individuals suing concerning asbestos exposure, attorneys experienced in trying such cases can still pursue legitimate claims. Since the only known cause for mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, what one is required to then do is shown precisely what source of asbestos had caused the mesothelioma to begin with.

Source: The Times Herald, "Pa. high court tosses 'any dose' asbestos theory," by Ron Todt, May 26, 2012

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