Industrial Medicine Expert’s Testimony Allowed In Asbestos Case

Plaintiff’s expert witness testified in this case involving asbestos exposure. The motion to exclude his testimony was denied.

Facts:: This case (Sally Gros Vedros v. Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, inc., et al – June 25th, 2015 – United States District Court – E.D. Louisiana) involves secondary exposure to asbestos. The plaintiff’s father worked at Avondale Shipyards from the 1940s to the mid 1970s as a welder. Vedros claims that she washed her father’s work clothes for many years, causing her to be exposed to asbestos secondarily which, after commencing the present case, caused her death from mesothelioma. The plaintiff also maintains that her work in the purchasing department at Avondale for three years in the 1960s directly exposed her to asbestos.

The plaintiff called Industrial hygienist, Frank Parker, III, to testify regarding his opinions about Vedros and her father’s exposure to asbestos, and the risk caused by said exposure. The defendant’s filed a “Daubert” motion to exclude his testimony in that he is not qualified as an expert and his testimony is unduly speculative and unreliable. Their motion relies on four factors.

The first part of the motion relays that Mr. Parker does not have expertise in mastics and adhesives and thus, not a qualified to testify in the present case, which directly involves these materials. Second, the defendants argue that his testimony is speculative in that it does not rely on facts or data that would support his opinion about the exposure to asbestos from Anchem’s products. Third, Mr. Parker did not conduct an analysis on the exposure to asbestos, nor did he calculate the risk involved. Last, they argue that Mr. Parker did not run any tests on mastics, instead relying on studies on fiber release from a Dr. James Millette, which are unreliable.

The plaintiff’s respond with a few arguments of their own. First, they cite numerous “Daubert” opinions from Louisiana in which courts denied a motion to exclude the testimony of Mr. Parker. In addition, they state that Mr. Parker has reviewed published and unpublished studies on fiber release from mastics and adhesives, which provide him with the necessary background to opine on this area. Last, the relay that not only has he relied on the Millette studies to prove his point, but also on depositions of other employees, his own knowledge of the area, and other published studies.

Discussion: In its discussion, the court first took up the issue of qualification and ruled that Mr. Parker does indeed have the qualifications to provide expert testimony in this case. The defendants have not provided any evidence to the contrary and Mr. Parker has indeed testified in many related asbestos cases. Regarding the argument that Mr. Parker’s testimony is unreliable and speculative, the court maintains that this claim concerns a primary issue in the plaintiff’s claims and has already been briefed by the parties.

On the third point, that the expert did not conduct analysis nor calculate the risk, the court cites other cases in this jurisdiction which state that, due to the difficulty of proving exposure, the claimants are not required to provide evidence on the amount of asbestos to which one was exposed. Last, the courts finds that Mr. Parker does not rely solely on the Millette studies to come to his conclusions.

The defendant’s motion to exclude the testimony of Frank Parker is denied.