Georgia Supreme Court Decision Regarding Causation Testimony in Asbestos Case

On July 5, 2016, the Georgia Supreme Court issued a decision in Scapa Dryer Fabrics, Inc. v. Knight, et al., in which the plaintiff alleged he was exposed to asbestos-containing products at a textile manufacturer’s facility in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  In reversing a Georgia Court of Appeals decision, the Georgia Supreme Court held that the trial court should have excluded the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert because it did not “fit” the legal standard for causation under Georgia law.  Specifically, the plaintiff’s expert had adopted a “cumulative/any exposure” causation theory and opined that each exposure to asbestos above background levels is a contributing cause of the plaintiff’s injury regardless of the extent of each exposure.  The Georgia Supreme Court held that such testimony should not have been admitted into evidence before the jury because the plaintiff’s expert failed to estimate the extent of the plaintiff’s exposure in any meaningful way.  In reaching its decision, the Georgia Supreme Court relied on its prior decisions emphasizing that a plaintiff’s “de minimis” exposure to a particular defendant’s product is not sufficient to establish legal causation and a plaintiff must show that his exposure to a particular defendants’ product made a “meaningful contribution” to the plaintiff’s alleged injury.

For more information about toxic tort litigation, please contact Andy Thompson.  For a copy of the Georgia Supreme Court decision, click here.

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