The California Court of Appeal for the Second District recently held in an asbestos-related cancer case that the trial court properly admitted testimony that the decedent’s exposure to asbestos in brake linings was a substantial factor in contributing to his developing mesothelioma. It further held that the manufacturer was not entitled to a supplemental instruction regarding factors to determine whether a plaintiff’s exposure to a particular asbestos-containing product should be deemed a substantial factor in causing the cancer.
In Rutherford v. Owens-Illinois, Inc., the California Supreme Court addressed the plaintiff’s burden in an asbestos-related cancer case to prove that the defendant’s product was a legal cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. The California high court held that the plaintiff may prove causation by demonstrating that his exposure to defendant’s asbestos-containing product was a substantial factor in contributing to the aggregate dose of asbestos the plaintiff ingested and hence to the risk of developing asbestos-related cancer. To meet this burden, plaintiffs tend to present testimony from medical experts adopting the theory that exposure to even low doses of asbestos contributes to the development of mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer.