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Asbestos Company’s Expert Witness Confuses Jury

Asbestos Company’s Expert Witness Confuses Jury

An asbestos appeal being heard by the Fourth District Appellate Court ended with the court upholding a McLean County court’s verdict in an asbestos case. The jury had determined that the plaintiff’s asbestosis, an asbestos-related disease, could not be blamed on the defendant based on confusing testimony provided by the defense.

The original case revolved around a former employee of the Eureka vacuum cleaner factory. Carol Holloway had worked at the factory in the 1960s and 1970s. Ms. Holloway was recently diagnosed with asbestosis, and in her lawsuit she claimed that Sprinkmann Sons, a company that did business with her employer during those years, was responsible for her illness. She provided testimony that during her years working at the factory, Sprinkmann Sons provided insulation that was contaminated with asbestos in the factory, and that her exposure to that mineral was the cause of her illness.

Testimony was provided during the original court proceedings by Arthur Frank, who is head of the environmental and occupational health department at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mr. Frank has researched the impact of asbestos exposure for over 45 years, and is considered to be an expert in the field. The jurors listened to his testimony, which indicated that it was difficult to identify a threshold amount of asbestos needed to cause respiratory illness, and ruled against Ms. Holloway. Her attorneys held that the testimony that he provided during the Holloway case was extremely ambiguous, and that was the reason for the appeal.

The appeal argued that Mr. Frank’s use of terminology such as “relatively a lot”, as well as other ambiguous phrases, when describing how much asbestos exposure was required caused great confusion for the jury and made it difficult for them to draw a confusion based on fact. Mr. Frank testified that it was difficult to measure the levels of exposure needed to cause respiratory illness, and that “Nobody really knows the dose but everybody agrees that it takes relatively a lot of asbestos to give you asbestosis.”

The appellate court reviewed the case and agreed with a lower court’s assessment that the plaintiff had not successfully proved her case that her disease was caused by her work exposure from the insulation provided by Sprinkmann. The court wrote that “a paradox was presented to the McLean County jurors in which there was no proof that the plaintiff’s exposure threshold had been crossed through her employment at Eureka.”

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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