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California Appelate Court found in favor of plaintiff in asbestos case

In this important decision the California appellate court found in favor of the plaintiff who argued that all exposures to asbestos cumulatively caused his injuries. In an asbestos-related cancer case, the trial court allowed plaintiff survivor to present testimony that the decedent’s exposure to asbestos in brake linings was a substantial factor in contributing to his risk of developing mesothelioma. The jury returned a verdict for plaintiff. (Superior Court for Los Angeles County, Nos. JCCP4674 and BC469472, Victor E. Chavez, Judge.)

The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment. It was proper under Evid. Code, §§ 801, 802, to admit testimony that the decedent’s exposure to asbestos in brake linings was a substantial factor in contributing to his risk of developing mesothelioma. The “every exposure” theory is the subject of legitimate scientific debate and therefore it was for the jury to resolve the conflict between the every exposure theory and any competing expert opinions. The court also held that the issue of causation was adequately covered by the jury instructions given; the manufacturer was not entitled to a proposed supplemental instruction based on language in case law regarding factors that may be relevant in determining whether exposure to a particular asbestos-containing product should be deemed a substantial factor in causing cancer.

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