Expert Testimony Upheld in Brake-Related Asbestos Suit

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DALLAS — When a victim of asbestos exposure seeks justice for their mesothelioma or asbestos-related disease diagnosis, they file suit against the companies whose contaminated products they worked with. The strength of each case is dependent upon expert witnesses, who provide opinions as to how the victim’s mesothelioma developed, how much asbestos they would have been exposed to in their job, and more.

Asbestos companies work hard to prevent these witnesses from being able to deliver their damaging opinions. In a recently heard case, a California judge ruled against a motion to have a physician’s testimony barred, allowing the noted physician to provide testimony on behalf of the mesothelioma victim.

Related post:
Honeywell Says Evidence Lacking in Asbestos Suit

Mesothelioma Victim Filed Suit Against over 40 Companies

The mesothelioma victim in this case originally filed claims against 40 different asbestos companies, blaming them for his exposure to asbestos via their contaminated products, and his family continued his case after his eventual death from the rare form of cancer. Included among the defendants was Honeywell International.

Before his death from mesothelioma, Thomas Toy Sr. testified that he had installed the company’s Bendix brakes while working as a mechanic in the motor pool for the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1956 and as a civilian machinist at Treasure Island Naval Shipyard between 1974 and 1980.

To support their assertion that the Bendix brakes had been responsible for his mesothelioma, Mr. Toy’s family enlisted Dr. Carl Brodkin, a specialist in occupational and environmental medicine with almost thirty years of experience.

Upon review of Mr. Toy’s medical records and deposition testimony, as well as his employment records and other documents, Dr. Brodkin asserted that his work with and around Bendix brakes was a “substantial contributing factor” in his sickness and death. Honeywell challenged the doctor’s methodology and conclusions and filed a motion for his testimony to be blocked.

Court Denies Motion to Block Mesothelioma Expert’s Testimony

In reviewing Honeywell’s argument, District Judge Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. noted the rules of evidence that allow a qualified expert to testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise, and noted that those rules do not preclude the qualitative analysis of Mr. Toy’s exposure to asbestos being offered in lieu of hard evidence of quantities.

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They also pointed out that though asbestos companies often object to Dr. Brodkin’s testimony, those objections are generally overruled. When confronted with an assertion that Dr. Brodkin’s opinion runs counter to Honeywell’s reports that exposure to brakes does not cause mesothelioma, the judge indicated that a jury would have to decide whose argument was more compelling. The case and the expert’s testimony will move forward to be heard at trial.

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