Everyone knows that asbestos causes mesothelioma. A major defense of the defendants has been that victims must prove exactly how much asbestos exposure a victim had. This is impossible in many cases because work sites often did not measure asbestos exposure. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has just issued a very favorable opinion that lays to rest this and related defenses.
In Rost v. Ford Motor Co., 2016 Pa. Lexis 2638 (Pa., Nov. 22, 2016), Mr. Rost was exposed to asbestos in potentially high amounts on a daily basis at a garage for more than three months. His medical expert, Dr. Arthur Frank, testified that every asbestos exposure contributes to the total or cumulative dose, which in turn increases the likelihood of disease. Dr. Frank testified that the asbestos exposures at the garage were sufficient, in and of themselves, to cause Rost’s mesothelioma. The Court held that this was sufficient to support the jury’s verdict in favor of Rost.
In this opinion, the Court held that the appropriate test is whether the asbestos exposure satisfies the “frequency, regularity and proximity” test. The Court held that it was not necessary to quantify either the plaintiff’s dose from the defendant’s product or the cumulative dose from all exposures. The Court held that it was unnecessary to compare Rost’s other occupational exposures to his exposure at the garage.
A plaintiff must prove that his asbestos exposure was a substantial factor in causing his or her mesothelioma. The Court had previously held that each and every exposure to asbestos, no matter how minimal in relation to other exposures, did not raise a fact issue regarding substantial factor causation. Ford argued here that Dr. Frank’s cumulative exposure testimony was the same as the insufficient each and every exposure testimony. The Court rejected this argument. Dr. Frank’s testimony that every exposure contributed cumulatively to Rost’s development of mesothelioma is not the same as testifying that every exposure to asbestos is a substantial factor. Rather, Dr. Frank testified that the entirety of Rost’s actual exposures over the three months at the garage were substantially causative of his mesothelioma.
Finally, a word of caution. Rost does not hold that every minor exposure to asbestos is sufficient to cause mesothelioma. Locks Law Firm has extensive experience with mesothelioma and other asbestos cases. We stand ready to assist victims meet the required proof.