Asbestos is a mineral that has been linked to the aggressive cancer known as Mesothelioma. Up to this point, most states have allowed lawsuits based on the “any breath/any fiber” theory. This theory follows that even one minor exposure to Asbestos, as simple as one breath of Asbestos dust or one fiber of Asbestos insulation, can cause Mesothelioma up to 40 years later. Thus, when a plaintiff files a claim against a company for Asbestos exposure, if there is any potential chance at all, regardless of how minimal, the company is generally help at least partially at fault.
The problem with this is that many companies have been forced into bankruptcy because of Asbestos related lawsuits. In fact, some companies have had to set up bankruptcy trusts to ensure that money would be available in the future for people who have been exposed to Asbestos and end up with a Mesothelioma diagnosis. To date, there are no other potential causes for the disease Mesothelioma. Asbestos is the only known link.
Some states, such as Pennsylvania and Texas, have made rulings against the “any breath/any fiber” theory. Even though there is no scientific proof to state that it a specific amount of exposure is necessary to contract Mesothelioma, these states ruled that Mesothelioma lawsuits needed to prove some relationship between the amount of exposure to Asbestos and the development of Mesothelioma. Louisiana is also debating whether or not they want to join Pennsylvania and Texas and put the burden of proof more on the shoulders of the plaintiffs.
As more people get diagnosed with Mesothelioma each year, chances are that states will be re-evaluating the laws regarding Mesothelioma cases. It is possible that other states may have to determine whether or not there needs to be more of a burden of proof put on the plaintiffs in these cases. Scientific research will also continue, and as links are put together and more proof is gathered to confirm the amount of Asbestos exposure necessary to cause Mesothelioma, the states will be able to develop more specific guidelines.
In the mean time, scientists do continue to support that as little as one strand of Asbestos fiber or one breath of Asbestos dust can and does cause Mesothelioma. However, science has also proven that cases are much more prevalent in people who have had increased exposure to the mineral. People who worked with Asbestos or lived in places where they were exposed to Asbestos that was not sealed seem to show a higher rate of contracting Mesothelioma. As time goes on, more states will determine what type of exposure rates are needed in order to file a lawsuit due to Asbestos exposure.