The U.S. Chamber urged the California Supreme Court to review a lower court decision addressing the “any exposure” theory of causation. The Chamber’s amicus letter explains that the California Supreme Court’s landmark Rutherford v. Owens-Illinois (1997) decision—which formulated and applied a two-part causation standard specific only to asbestos lawsuits—has spawned decades of litigation, the result of which has been an ever-increasing body of authority relaxing the causation standard for asbestos-specific claims. Now, some trial and appellate courts have stretched Rutherford’s already relaxed causation standard beyond the breaking point, holding that so long as a plaintiff has alleged “any exposure” to asbestos—regardless of the dose or duration of exposure—causation has been established.
The Chamber’s amicus letter argues that the “any exposure” causation theory cannot be squared with bedrock causation principles of black letter tort law and, if left to stand, this fundamentally unjust standard will make the California court system a magnet jurisdiction for more asbestos cases, even in cases where neither the plaintiff nor the defendant is located in California.
Blaine H. Evanson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP served as counsel for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center.