New York's Highest Court Says Asbestos Causation Requires Evidence Of Sufficient Exposure To Sustain Liability

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Attorneys Rafael Vergara and Jhonattan N. Gonzalez analyze Francis Nemeth v. Brenntag North America.

May 10, 2022
Rafael Vergara & Jhonattan N. Gonzalez - White and Williams

On April 26, 2022, the New York Court of Appeals described that in toxic tort cases a plaintiff can only establish liability-creating causation for an adverse health effect with “expert testimony based on generally accepted methodologies.” See Francis Nemeth v. Brenntag North America (N.Y. Apr. 26, 2022). The suit involved alleged asbestos exposure from talc.

The plaintiff alleged liability for talc contaminated with asbestos that was ultimately used in a commercial talcum powder, Desert Flower, which the decedent applied daily from 1960 to 1971. At trial, the plaintiff proffered two expert witnesses, a geologist, Sean Fitzgerald, who testified about the “glove box test” and a doctor of internal medicine, Dr. Jacqueline Moline. Fitzgerald’s glove box test consisted of agitating a sample of Desert Flower in a Plexiglas chamber. Fitzgerald concluded that the asbestos fibers in the sample of Desert Flower were “significantly releasable” and that the decedent was exposed to thousands to trillions of fibers through repeated use. Dr. Moline concluded Desert Flower was “a substantial contributing factor” to the decedent’s peritoneal mesothelioma. The jury returned a verdict in the plaintiff’s favor.

Reprinted courtesy of Rafael Vergara, White and Williams and Jhonattan N. Gonzalez, White and Williams
Mr. Vergara may be contacted at vergarar@whiteandwilliams.com
Mr. Gonzalez may be contacted at gonzalezj@whiteandwilliams.com



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