Was There Exposure? Objective Tests Through Advances in Biomarker Science Relevant to Asbestos and Other Toxic Tort Litigation

Some of the most difficult product liability cases to resolve are tough because of a lack of clarity as to the duration or amount of exposure. For example, defendants and plaintiffs sometimes take very different views of exposure in the so-called “take home” cases where a spouse allegedly developed a cancer from a “toxin” in the workplace of the other spouse. Over the next few years, some litigants will be smart enough to take advantage of the findings from new, objective tests that are arising …

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New Considerations in Defending Against Lung Cancer Cases Part 2: Genetic Signatures

Lung cancer claiming in asbestos litigation is not gone. To the contrary, a very recent report from KCIC points out the numbers, including 60 lung cancer filings this year by Napoli Shkolnick, 54 cases by Weitz & Luxenberg, and 35 by the Simmons firm.

More broadly, KCIC explained:

Lung cancer filings make up about 24 percent of the total filings received this year through August 31. Of these cases, Gori Julian & Associates filed the most cases at 120 and Napoli Shkolnik is second with

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New Considerations in Defending Against Lung Cancer Cases Part 1: HPV Status

For some time now, we have been writing, discussing, and suggesting that there is great value in thinking about genetic and other “omic” data when defending toxic tort or product liability cases involving disease allegations of any kind. But these “omic” data are especially critical in cases involving allegations of cancer causation.

On this note, we were intrigued when we saw a recent post reporting that defense experts and lawyers in asbestos litigation spent some time thinking about the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) as a …

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Jurors in Toxic Tort Litigation Take Genetic Issues Seriously

Can jurors and/or judges grasp the role of genetics in personal injury claims alleged to arise from exposure to specific chemicals?  Can they grasp the issues well enough to really help expert witnesses present the issues clearly, and to help jurors grasp the issues?  In a recent post on this blog, we made reference to the first asbestos trial making explicit reference to a plaintiff with BAP1 mutations and the alleged role of those mutations in the causation story. The point of this month’s post …

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Genomics: Beyond Asbestos and Into Talcum Powder Litigation and Ovarian Cancer

It appears that 2016 may be the year that genomics and other aspects of molecular science make a big splash in “mass tort” litigation. While genomic analysis has long been used in forensics, it has also made its way into toxic tort cases, such as benzene exposure cases, and asbestos and mesothelioma cases. Indeed, the first BAP1 and mesothelioma case is now on the books (see our recent post on this here).

Recently, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) was ordered to pay $72 million

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First Asbestos Genetic Susceptibility (BAP1) Trial Now in the Books

Asbestos litigation has now entered the modern era. Namely, the first case involving testimony related to BAP1 mutations has gone to trial in California: the Ortwein case. The trial involved a 50-year-old woman with pleural mesothelioma, represented by the Kazan firm. The defendant at trial was CertainTeed, a building manufacturer, and the case settled shortly before it would have gone to the jury.

But does the Ortwein trial matter when it is only one case out of thousands filed every year? We believe it does …

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Big Picture Thinking About Headlines Involving “Cancer”: Is Cancer Environmentally-Induced or Due to “Bad Luck”?

When cancer causation is at the heart of a toxic tort case it is critical to remain abreast of current research in the field. A good toxic tort lawyer must consider not only the science that will help him win his case, but also maintain an awareness of the scientific research related to basic knowledge about cancer causation, cancer prevention, and cancer treatments. This knowledge will ultimately translate into better openings, direct examinations, cross examinations, and closings.

Last month we addressed some trial-specific thinking, …

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Multiple Factors and Causation in Cancer Litigation: Examples from a Coal Tar Pitch Bladder Cancer Case

How many external sources have a role in cancer causation? And to what extent can scientists and lawyers parse these factors in today’s age of molecular investigation of cancers? For purposes of analysis, this post looks at a hypothetical bladder cancer case in which there are assertions regarding smoking, asbestosis, and occupational coal tar pitch exposure in the context of manufacturing of carbon graphite electrodes.

Assume that the plaintiff’s industrial hygiene expert asserts that the bladder cancer was caused by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) occurring …

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New Developments in Molecular Science Relevant to Asbestos and Lung Cancer Claims

Scientific advances and molecular insights relevant to asbestos and lung cancer are exploding — especially topics related to an assessment of causation. These advances are chronicled in molecular studies related to genomics, proteomics, epigenetics, and transcriptomics. These molecular studies are transforming so-called “black-box epidemiology,” providing us with a higher degree of specificity that will ultimately allow us to more definitively link exposures to disease states.

For example, European investigators and others have been publishing intriguing studies describing lung cancer tumor mutation profiles that appear to …

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