Plaintiff’s Expert Industrial Hygienist Found to Be Qualified to Offer Testimony on Non-Specific Levels of Asbestos Exposure
In this federal court case, the decedent, Sally Gros Vedros, is alleged to have been exposed to asbestos from laundering her father’s work clothes during the time he worked as a welder at the Avondale shipyard from 1943 to 1976 and from her own work at Avondale in the purchasing department from 1960 to 1963. The defendant, Bayer CropScience, Inc., which was the successor to several companies that formerly were known as Amchem Company, moved to preclude plaintiff’s industrial hygienist, Frank Parker, III, from testifying, on the basis that his testimony was both unreliable and unduly speculative. Amchem made numerous products containing asbestos, including coatings, sealants, and mastics. It is specifically alleged that the decedent was exposed to an Amchem adhesive called 81-27.
Regarding Parker’s qualifications, Amchem argued that he lacks any experience with mastics and adhesives. The court found Parker qualified, holding: “The Court does not agree with Amchem that Parker lacks qualifications to testify as to Vedros’s alleged exposure to asbestos. Parker has testified that he has performed ‘tens of thousands’ of samples on asbestos products throughout his career, and is thus extremely familiar with the effect of asbestos exposure and fiber release from a variety of types of products. Amchem provides no support for its argument that Parker should be excluded from testifying merely because he does not have an extensive background in the area of mastics or adhesives. Instead, considering that Parker has reviewed literature regarding mastics and adhesives, and because he has previously testified in numerous asbestos cases within Louisiana as a qualified expert in the field of asbestos exposure, the Court finds no reason to conclude that Parker lacks qualifications as an expert in this matter” (citations omitted).
Regarding the reliability, Amchem argued that Parker’s testimony is unreliable since he failed to calculate the concentration of asbestos to which the decedent was allegedly exposed. The court disagreed stating that the State of Louisiana has repeatedly found that plaintiffs are not required to present specific levels or concentrations of asbestos in proving exposure. As the court held: “Regarding Vedros’s exposure to asbestos through Amchem’s products, the mere fact that Parker has not relied on specific calculations of asbestos levels in Amchem’s products does not render his testimony unreliable.” The court also disagreed with the plaintiff that Parker’s testimony was unreliable since it was going to be based on “the Millette studies,” which were challenged in another pending motion before the court, as his testimony was going to be based on other studies as well.
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