$3M Judgment Affirmed Finding Sufficient Evidence to Show Specific Causation Against Cement Supplier

On March 22, 2017, in the Supreme Court of New York, Oneida County, a $3M judgment was awarded to plaintiff Nicholas Dominick for injuries sustained due to exposure to asbestos associated with the defendants’ products. The defendants appealed from the judgment entered upon a jury verdict finding the plaintiff was exposed to asbestos from products supplied by the defendants, that they failed to exercise reasonable care by not providing a warning about the hazards of exposure to asbestos with respect to their products, and that their failure to warn was a substantial contributing factor in causing the plaintiff’s injuries.

The Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department, heard the appeal, and found the evidence was sufficient to establish that asbestos in products the defendants supplied was a substantial factor in causing or contributing to plaintiff’s injuries. With respect to specific causation, this court looked to Parker v Mobil Oil Corp. (7 NY3d 434, 448, rearg denied 8 NY3d 828, which illustrated that the expert opinion must set forth that the plaintiff “was exposed to sufficient levels of the toxin to cause the injuries”) (see Sean R. v BMW of N. Am., LLC, 26 NY3d 801, 808). However, as the Court of Appeals later wrote, “Parker explains that precise quantification or a dose-response relationship or an exact numerical value is not required to make a showing of specific causation.” There simply “must be evidence from which the factfinder can conclude that the plaintiff was exposed to levels of the agent that are known to cause the kind of harm that the plaintiff claims to have suffered” (id.).  Accordingly, contrary to the defendants’ contention, the plaintiff’s expert opinion, considered along with the rest of her testimony, was found to be sufficient to establish specific causation.

For the reasons set forth, among others, the judgment was unanimously affirmed.

Read the full decision here.