Plaintiff’s Experts Satisfy Daubert, Allowed to Testify in Brake Dust Exposure Case

ARKANSAS — Ronald Thomas worked as a brake mechanic and manager at auto repair shops for approximately twelve years. In March of 2017, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma and subsequently passed away later that year. His estate brought product liability claims against multiple defendants for negligence and strict liability, alleging that exposure to asbestos in brake pads caused Thomas’s mesothelioma.

The plaintiff brought forth two experts, Dr. Arnold Brody and Dr. Edwin Holstein, to support his theory.  Dr. Brody is a professor emeritus of pathology with a doctorate in cell biology and Dr. Holstein is a medical doctor and clinical assistant professor. The defendant Ford filed motions to exclude the testimony of Drs. Holstein and Brody.

In asbestos-related products liability lawsuits, the plaintiff must prove both general and specific causation with expert testimony. General causation is proved by showing asbestos can cause mesothelioma, and specific causation is proved by showing how the plaintiff contracted mesothelioma.

Ford asserted that Dr. Brody’s testimony should be excluded because he presents “a theory that is tantamount to the ‘each and every exposure theory,’ which some courts have held is unreliable.  The court determined that the bases for Dr. Brody’s opinions satisfy the Daubert standard, and denied the motion to exclude.

Ford additionally asserted that Dr. Holstein’s testimony should be precluded because his reports do not show that exposure to chrysotile asbestos fibers in brake dust – the fibers that the plaintiff allegedly breathed in – can cause mesothelioma. The court opined that since Dr. Holstein examined plaintiff’s career history and relied on published scientific studies, his methods are reliable.  Furthermore, Dr. Holstein has been permitted to testify on specific causation based on similar methods in other cases.

The court denied both of Ford’s motions.