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Exposure Does Not Equal Causation: Defeating Claims that a Given Product Contributed to a Plaintiff's Injury

January 2011
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Exposure does not equal causation. Sounds obvious, right? Yet, all too often, plaintiffs in toxic exposure cases try to build a case solely upon product identification coupled with evidence of a disease process which the offending chemical may cause. The defense bar even accepts this at times. Perhaps this is why the Kentucky Supreme Court recently noted the frequent “confusion between exposure (i.e., the opportunity for causation) and evidence of causation itself (i.e., that the exposure was the legal cause of the plaintiff’s injury). Though evidence of exposure may be related to causation (e.g., testimony about the length and intensity of exposure), it is not exactly what we mean when we require a plaintiff to prove causation.” Certainteed Corp. v. Ava Nell Dexter, et al., KY Sup Ct 2008-SC-000886-DG (Dec. 16, 2010) (establishing criteria for apportionment of liability among empty-chair defendants in an asbestos case)...

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