Toxic torts represents the unique confluence of law, science and medicine. Generally, toxic tort litigation arises when an individual claims to have contracted a disease as a result of occupational exposure to some agent. And, generally the diseases are chronic in nature, i.e., involving years between onset of exposure and onset of disease. Examples of toxic tort agents are asbestos, beryllium, lead, silica, solvents, and various hydrocarbons.
What makes toxic torts unique is the long period between onset of exposure and onset of disease. Agents are introduced into the workplace not knowing what might be the consequence of exposure 10, 20 or 30 years later. And, what is thought to be safe or acceptable levels of exposure often change over the years as scientific and medical information evolves.
Defense of toxic tort lawsuits requires counsel to understand and be able to integrate the medical and scientific literature, and to apply that to what a reasonable manufacturer should have known when. One must understand epidemiological studies as to causation and industrial hygiene for evaluating workplace exposures and protections. Finally comes the medical issues of disease and causation, because often what is claimed to be an occupational disease is not unique to an occupational exposure. Examples would be lung cancer and pulmonary disease.
At Markusson, Green & Jarvis, we have developed a high level of expertise from decades of experience in dealing with toxic substances.