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Should asbestos lawsuits be heard in special 'science courts'?

Knowing what we now know about the dangers of asbestos exposure, it seems pretty unbelievable that asbestos were widely used in construction, plumbing, and several other industries within just the last 50 years, causing high instances of mesothelioma among former workers in these fields. Although researchers and medical professionals are hard at work to find a cure for mesothelioma, there is still much that remains to be discovered about the disease. This can lead to a significant amount of back-and-forth in court, as personal injury attorneys debate the merits of various scientific claims.

One aspect of asbestos exposure all scientific experts agree on is that mesothelioma is linked causally to amphibole fiber exposure. However, disagreement exists on whether or not chrysotile fibers in asbestos cause the disease.

According to several personal injury attorneys, all asbestos, including chrysotile fibers, causes mesothelioma. Many organizations support this premise based on scientific research: The World Health Organization, the Environmental Protection Agency, the CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and essentially all other U.S. and international health organizations.

Because of the work that remains to be done in mesothelioma research, health law expert Robert I. Field sys that the legal system is designed to give both sides a sufficient chance to be heard. However, he believes that alternative methods of litigation may be worth considering. For example, he has proposed science drug courts, which are specialized court processes modeled after drug courts.

The attorney was asked about the defense strategies in mesothelioma cases. He says the defense employs the same experts repeatedly, arguing the plaintiff's exposure time was too short and too far in the past to be the cause. The attorney counters this argument by referencing national safety benchmarks that clearly state any asbestos exposure greater than background levels is hazardous."

Source: Legal Newsline, "The science of asbestos: The arguments for juries," Michael P. Tremoglie, Oct. 31, 2011

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