News & Articles

20 June 2014

Each and Every Exposure Insufficient to Establish Causation

Judge Eugene Strassburger of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently affirmed a lower court’s decision to grant summary judgment to two defendants in an asbestos lawsuit based on insufficient causation evidence. The judge ruled each and every exposure without more is insufficient evidence to prove causation.

In the case, the suit was brought by Allen Groover against several defendants on behalf of his deceased wife, Cheryl. Mrs. Groover never worked around asbestos and the plaintiff based his case on the theory that she was exposed to toxic asbestos dust every time she laundered his clothes after he worked with products containing asbestos. The plaintiff alleged that because he worked around products containing asbestos, he sufficiently established liability as to the various named defendants. The court rejected this argument, firmly stating that this is not the law and does not meet the regularity-frequency-proximity standard.

Judge Strassburger emphasized in the Groover case that plaintiffs must meet this regularity-frequency-proximity standard to withstand summary judgment. This standard requires a plaintiff to show the plaintiff or decedent regularly inhaled dust from a particular defendant’s productor, as in this case, regularly was exposed to asbestos dust which adhered to his clothing. It must be shown the dust came from a particular defendant’s product. This is a Pennsylvania case and it will be interesting to see if Illinois adopts this decision or if the judges find a way to modify Judge Strassburger’s ruling since we too, have the “frequency-regularity-proximity” standard set forth in Thacker v. UNR Industries. 151 Ill.2d 343, 358 (Ill. 1992).