Various Rulings Issued on Motions in Limine in Trial; Plaintiffs’ Motion to Exclude Defense Experts Denied U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin, July 7, 2017

The court issued various rulings on motions in limine filed by both the plaintiffs and defendant John Crane in this matter that is set for trial on July 17, 2017. The decedent died of mesothelioma. Many of the motions were unopposed. Below are summaries of the more pertinent rulings.

Regarding the plaintiff’s motions, the plaintiff argued that the defendant should be barred from disclosing that some corporations were in bankruptcy. The defendants opposed the motion because under Wisconsin law, any claims plaintiffs have submitted to bankruptcy trusts were admissible. The court agreed that any claims the plaintiffs have asserted that other entities were responsible for the development of the decedent’s mesothelioma were potentially relevant, thus denied the motion in part, but granted the motion to the extent it sought to exclude any mention of court bankruptcy of others in the asbestos industry.

The plaintiffs also moved to preclude the opinion offered by the defendant’s experts James Crapo, Victor Roggli and Mary Beth Beasley, that there existed a minimum threshold of chrysotile exposure required to cause mesothelioma. The plaintiffs cited a number of scientific sources for the proposition that there was no recognized safe level of exposure to any type of asbestos, and asserted that “multiple courts” have excluded the chrysotile threshold opinion. The defendant argued that the “dose evidence” analysis to estimate the amount of asbestos fibers a person was exposed to was a scientific, widely-used method to determine substantial causation. The court reviewed Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, and held that the plaintiffs’ citations to multiple sources supported a finding that there was no scientifically recognized safe level of exposure. However, with multiple exposures, there was support for the argument that minor exposure was likely to produce little risk of developing mesothelioma, sufficient to satisfy FRE 702. The court found: “..accepting plaintiffs’ argument to the contrary would amount to endorsing an ‘any exposure’ liability theory…”. This assertion has been excluded by numerous courts. This motion was denied. The court also denied the plaintiffs’ motion to exclude the defendant’s expert John Henshaw, a prior OSHA employee, and Margaret McCloskey, who opined on the decedent’s level of exposure to asbestos while a boiler tender in the Navy.

Regarding the defendant’s motions, the court issued various rulings with little analysis and reserved its ruling on many of the motions.

Read the full decision here.

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