Category Archives: Toxic Tort

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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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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New Jersey Names New Asbestos Judge

Effective September 1, 2012, all asbestos litigation consolidated and pending in Middlesex County, New Jersey will be reassigned from Judge Ann McCormick to Judge Vincent LeBlon.  Asbestos cases have been consolidated in Middlesex County for many years, and Judge McCormick has presided over the New Jersey asbestos docket in Middlesex County since the early 2000s.   The announcement issued by the New Jersey Supreme Court does not provide any reasons for this change, but changes in judicial assignments take place every year, although changes in New…

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World Health Organization Labels Diesel Engine Exhaust Carcinogenic

Earlier this week, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO), raised the classificiation of diesel engine exhaust from Group 2A (“probably carcinogenic to humans) to Group 1 (“carcinogenic to humans”).  This action followed a week-long meeting of the IARC in which scientific evidence regarding the cancer-causing potential of diesel engine exhaust was reportedly reviewed. Diesel engine exhaust has been classified as a Group 2A carcinogen by the IARC since 1988. The press release issued by…

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