This summer, in an important case for those who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and their family members, Bostic v. Georgia-Pacific Corporation, the Texas Supreme Court addressed causation in asbestos-disease lawsuits. The plaintiffs had sued for damages after the death of 40-year-old Timothy Bostic due to mesothelioma. Asbestos can cause mesothelioma. His relatives sued 40 defendants, claiming that exposure to their asbestos-containing products exposed him to asbestos, causing his mesothelioma. They sued on the basis of negligence and products liability. The defendant at issue in the appeal was Georgia-Pacific, which had produced drywall compound that the decedent had been exposed to as a child and teenager.
At trial, the jury found the drywall manufacturer and two other defendants liable, including a glass company and a former employer of the plaintiff. 75% liability was allocated to the manufacturer. The total damages were $6.8 million with $4.8 million in punitive damages. On appeal, the appellate court decided that the evidence of causation in the case was not sufficient, and a take-nothing judgment was rendered.
The plaintiffs asked the Court to review. The Court explained that in an earlier case it had held that to establish causation, the plaintiff had to prove the defendant’s product was a substantial factor in causing an asbestos-related disease, and just showing that a plaintiff was exposed to some respirable asbestos fibers traced to the defendant was not enough. The exposure to the defendant’s product had to be considered a substantial factor in causing the asbestos-related disease. The Court concluded there had to be reasonable evidence that the exposure was enough to exceed the threshold before it was considered likely to have caused the disease. Continue reading →