Plaintiff’s Expert Found Qualified to Testify, But Not Allowed to Give “Every Exposure” Causation Testimony

In this federal case, the decedent, Sally Gros Vedros alleges exposure to asbestos from laundering her father’s work clothes during the time he worked as a welder at the Avondale shipyard, from 1943-1976, and while she worked in the Avondale purchasing department, from 1960-1963. The defendants moved to exclude the plaintiff’s expert’s causation opinions at trial, arguing the expert, radiation oncologist Dr. Stephen Kraus, was not qualified to testify as an expert and that his causation opinions were not reliable because they relied on the “every exposure” theory.

The court first found Dr. Kraus to be qualified to testify and held: “Dr. Kraus has a medical degree and is board certified in radiation oncology. He has been treating patients with mesothelioma for more than three decades. He has served as the medical director for the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Tulane Cancer Center, where he had both a clinical practice and teaching duties. Moreover, Dr. Kraus has reviewed scientific and medical literature regarding asbestos and asbestos related diseases as well as Vedros’s medical records and deposition testimony. Accordingly, the Court concludes that Dr. Kraus is sufficiently qualified to offer expert testimony regarding causation, provided that those opinions meet the standard of reliability required under Rule 702 and Daubert. Defendants are free to challenge any perceived lack of expertise on cross-examination.”

However, the court granted the defendants’ motion to preclude specific causation testimony based on the “every exposure” theory and stated: “Many of the Plaintiffs arguments and sources cited support Dr. Kraus’s opinions on general causation rather than specific causation. Just as in Comardelle, ‘none of those citations plug the impermissible gap in Dr. [Kraus’s] reasoning from the general causation proposition that exposure to asbestos increases the risk of mesothelioma, to the specific causation opinion that in this case [Vedros’s] exposure to [a particular Defendant’s product] was a cause of [her] mesothelioma giving rise to liability.’ Comardelle, 2015 WL 64279, at *4. Accordingly, the Court concludes that Dr. Kraus’s specific causation opinions are an unreliable product of the ‘every exposure above background’ theory and must be excluded.” (String citation omitted.)

Read the full decision here.