Author Archives: David H. Schwartz

Genomics: Beyond Asbestos and Into Talcum Powder Litigation and Ovarian Cancer

It appears that 2016 may be the year that genomics and other aspects of molecular science make a big splash in “mass tort” litigation. While genomic analysis has long been used in forensics, it has also made its way into toxic tort cases, such as benzene exposure cases, and asbestos and mesothelioma cases. Indeed, the first BAP1 and mesothelioma case is now on the books (see our recent post on this here). Recently, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) was ordered to pay $72 million

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DNA sequence

First Asbestos Genetic Susceptibility (BAP1) Trial Now in the Books

Asbestos litigation has now entered the modern era. Namely, the first case involving testimony related to BAP1 mutations has gone to trial in California: the Ortwein case. The trial involved a 50-year-old woman with pleural mesothelioma, represented by the Kazan firm. The defendant at trial was CertainTeed, a building manufacturer, and the case settled shortly before it would have gone to the jury. But does the Ortwein trial matter when it is only one case out of thousands filed every year? We believe it does…

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CANCER RESEARCH

Big Picture Thinking About Headlines Involving “Cancer”: Is Cancer Environmentally-Induced or Due to “Bad Luck”?

When cancer causation is at the heart of a toxic tort case it is critical to remain abreast of current research in the field. A good toxic tort lawyer must consider not only the science that will help him win his case, but also maintain an awareness of the scientific research related to basic knowledge about cancer causation, cancer prevention, and cancer treatments. This knowledge will ultimately translate into better openings, direct examinations, cross examinations, and closings. Last month we addressed some trial-specific thinking,…

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e-cig and flavor bottles

Will Diacetyl Flavorings in E-Cigarettes be the Next Mass Tort?

This post also appears on the Science & Law Blog from Innovative Science Solutions.  It seems that science related to the efficacy and safety of e-cigarettes (e-cigs) is continuously making headlines. The growing popularity of e-cigs has attracted attention of many different groups, and e-cigs are likely to continue to be the subject of vigorous debate. While e-cigs are not currently regulated, the FDA has issued a proposed rule to include e-cigs under its authority to regulate certain tobacco and nicotine-containing products. Innovative Science Solutions…

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Multiple Factors and Causation in Cancer Litigation: Examples from a Coal Tar Pitch Bladder Cancer Case

How many external sources have a role in cancer causation? And to what extent can scientists and lawyers parse these factors in today’s age of molecular investigation of cancers? For purposes of analysis, this post looks at a hypothetical bladder cancer case in which there are assertions regarding smoking, asbestosis, and occupational coal tar pitch exposure in the context of manufacturing of carbon graphite electrodes. Assume that the plaintiff’s industrial hygiene expert asserts that the bladder cancer was caused by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) occurring…

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Molecules background

New Developments in Molecular Science Relevant to Asbestos and Lung Cancer Claims

Scientific advances and molecular insights relevant to asbestos and lung cancer are exploding — especially topics related to an assessment of causation. These advances are chronicled in molecular studies related to genomics, proteomics, epigenetics, and transcriptomics. These molecular studies are transforming so-called “black-box epidemiology,” providing us with a higher degree of specificity that will ultimately allow us to more definitively link exposures to disease states. For example, European investigators and others have been publishing intriguing studies describing lung cancer tumor mutation profiles that appear to…

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