Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Sargon v. Asbestos Litigation Science

Davis v. Honeywell Int’l, No. B256793 (D2d4 Mar. 3, 2016)

This case addresses the admissibility of expert testimony on an issue that likely comes up in many of the wave of asbestos cases that are currently working their way through California courts. The testimony is based on the “every exposure” theory. The gist of the theory is that asbestos is so toxic that every exposure to it beyond the background level present in the ordinary atmosphere can potentially be a substantial factor in causing mesothelioma. Some states have rejected expert testimony on the theory, others have not. The court here finds that the testimony is sufficiently reliable under the relatively new Sargon standard, which permits courts to reject expert testimony that is: “(1) based on matter of a type on which an expert may not reasonably rely, (2) based on reasons unsupported by the material on which the expert relies, or (3) speculative.” According to the court, while there isn’t any scientific consensus on the theory, there is enough scientific support on the side of the every exposure theory that it should not be precluded as too unreliable for a civil trial.


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