Proving a Claim of Asbestos Exposure

When you file a claim alleging asbestos exposure, what do you need to prove? This is an important question that, if not satisfied, may be the end of your lawsuit. Simply being exposed to any asbestos is not sufficient to maintain a claim. You, as the plaintiff, have the burden of showing that you were exposed to the defendants asbestos-containing product, and that particular exposure was a substantial factor in causing the damage. Simply showing that exposure to asbestos occurred will not be sufficient.

A 2008 Jefferson Parish case, Thibodeaux v. Asbestos Corp. Ltd., illustrates the importance of producing adequate evidence to support your asbestos claim. Here, the Thibodeaux’s filed suit against Eagle Asbestos and its insurer, OneBeacon, alleging personal injuries as a result of their exposure to asbestos, namely mesothelioma. Mrs. Thibodeaux died from mesothelioma that her family claimed was the result of her exposure to Eagle’s asbestos at Charity Hospital, where she worked. The Thibodeauxs would eventually lose this case because the court found that the evidence they provided was insufficient to support the claims they alleged. They did not prove that Mrs. Thibodeaux was exposed to Eagle asbestos. Without that, their argument was simply speculation.

So what do you need to prove exposure to a particular defendants asbestos?

To establish exactly what is sufficient and insufficient evidence, the court uses one particular case as an example, Grant v. American Sugat Refining, to show the type of evidence needed to support an asbestos-exposure claim. There, the victim was able to show employment records that placed him on site when asbestos-containing material was present, and affidavits of co-workers and managers stating that the defendant was the only company scheduled to perform the work involving asbestos-containing materials. In this case, the plaintiffs win because they were able to prove that the victim was exposed to the defendant’s asbestos. While this is an example, it effectively shows what you need, as a plaintiff, to prove.

To win, the plaintiff in an asbestos-exposure case must show, affirmatively, that he was exposed to defendants asbestos-containing products, and that those products were a substantial factor in causing the plaintiffs injuries. Put differently, you have to prove, with sufficient evidence, that you were exposed to the defendant’s particular product, and that the exposure to the defendants product was a significant cause of your injuries.

This is where the Thibodeauxs failed and the Grants succeeded. The Thibodeauxs knew there was some exposure, but they did not present evidence that showed Mrs. Thibodeaux was specifically exposed to Eagle asbestos. Grant was successful because they were able to show that the victim was specifically exposed to the defendants asbestos.

Keep these important requirements in mind when filing your asbestos claim. Make sure you can identify and prove exposure to the defendants asbestos-containing materials.