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Pennsylvania Supreme Courts Ravert v. AW Chesterton decision reaffirms rejection of the single fiber theory

Mr. Ravert was diagnosed with mesothelioma and sued multiple defendants claiming exposure to asbestos from their products.  Defendants were awarded summary judgment on the basis that Ravert’s testimony did not established that he breathed asbestos-containing dust from Defendants’ products, and that the Plaintiff’s expert affidavits represented “an artificial record which attempts to dehor [Plaintiff’s] observation denying the existence of asbestos dust.”  The appellate court reversed, finding an issue of fact as to whether there was dust from the products, and noting that Plaintiff has a diminished burden of meeting a frequency, regularity and proximity threshold in cases of mesothelioma, since the disease can be caused by limited exposure to asbestos. 

 

The Supreme Court vacated the appellate court’s ruling, and also reaffirmed multiple principles of Pennsylvania law, including: 

  1. The “each and every exposure, no matter how small,” theory of causation may not be relied upon to establish causation for a dose-response disease;
  2. Experts may not ignore or refuse to consider dose as a factor in opinions in cases involving dose-response diseases;
  3. De minimis exposure to a defendant’s products is insufficient to establish substantial factor causation in the case involving a dose response disease;
  4. Individualized assessment of a plaintiff’s exposure history is necessary;
  5. Summary judgment is available only in cases (a) involving de minimis exposure and (b) expert’s basis for causation is the “any-exposure” theory; and
  6. Additional details in expert reports are not going to be ordered by the Court, since there are appropriate vehicles for discovering the basis of the experts opinions set forth in the rules of civil procedure. 

 

The Court mentioned and reaffirmed the principles set forth in the Betz v. Pneumo Abex, LLC case and the Gregg v. V-J Auto Parts, Inc. cases. 

 

 

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