Beshid v. Bondex International


Summary: On October 1, 2008, Atlantic Legal filed an amicus letter in the California Supreme Court on behalf of 14 prominent scientists urging the court to grant review in Beshid v. Bondex International. The case involves the liability of a manufacturer of plasterboard joint compound for the mesothelioma of an individual whose exposure was limited to the use of joint compound from a variety of manufacturers. He used this joint compound on a part-time basis for a limited period of time. However, the defendants joint compound contained only chrysotile asbestos, which has been found to be much less potent for causing mesothelioma than other types of asbestos. In addition, the plaintiff failed to introduce any evidence as to the quantity of asbestos to which he was exposed or to establish the reasonable medical probability that his exposure to Bondex Internationals product was a substantial factor in bringing about the injury, as is required by the leading California case on proof in product liability cases. According to the decision in the landmark case, Rutherford v. Owens-Illinois Inc, (1997), 16 Cal.4th 953, the California Supreme Court articulated that the plaintiff must establish there is a reasonable medical probability based upon competent expert testimony that exposure to the defendants product was a substantial factor in contributing to his risk of developing the asbestos-related disease. Rutherford suggested that the plaintiff must show some amount of exposure to asbestos from the defendants product, and that the exposure must cross a scientific threshold proven to increase the risk of developing the disease. The plaintiffs exposure to asbestos from the defendants product must be significant enough that an expert could testify it increased the risk of disease to a reasonable medical probability. However, according to the Court of Appeals, California does not require a specific link to a specific product demonstrating that a plaintiff used that product for a specific period of time. While the evidence with regard to the frequency of exposure, regularity of exposure, and proximity of asbestos coming directly from the use of Bondex was relevant, it was not mandated.’ The Court of Appeal stayed true to the words; at the trial the Court was unconcerned about the absence of any evidence concerning the plaintiffs exposure to Bondexs product alone. In affirming the almost $3 million judgment against Bondex, it noted that the plaintiffs expert testified the exposure was a significant contributing factor to the development of the disease, even though the expert did not know the amount of exposure, and that this testimony alone was sufficient. The Foundations amicus letter urges the California Supreme Court to grant review and definitively and properly interpret Rutherford. The Foundation argued that Rutherford is consistent with a proper scientific approach that is missing in the Court of Appeals most recent decision. The decision in Beshid v. Bondex International is part of a disturbing trend of recent appellate cases in which California appellate courts have interpreted Rutherford to require no more than mere exposure to a plaintiffs asbestos-containing product, providing that the plaintiff can find an expert to testify that the exposure is a substantial contributing factor.

On October 1, 2008, Atlantic Legal filed an amicus letter in the California Supreme Court on behalf of 14 prominent scientists urging the court to grant review in Beshid v. Bondex International. The case involves the liability of a manufacturer of plasterboard joint compound for the mesothelioma of an individual whose exposure was limited to the use of joint compound from a variety of manufacturers. He used this joint compound on a part-time basis for a limited period of time. However, the defendants joint compound contained only chrysotile asbestos, which has been found to be much less potent for causing mesothelioma than other types of asbestos.