The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has reportedly decided not to review two asbestos-exposure cases that purportedly produced opposing conclusions in the intermediate appellate court as to the admissibility of expert testimony on an “any-exposure” causation theory. In Nelson v. Airco Welders Supply, a divided threejudge intermediate appellate court panel reversed a $14.5 million verdict, finding the plaintiff-expert’s causation testimony inadmissible, and granted a new trial. The court has since granted reargument before the full court. Immediately after the verdict was reversed, however, a different superior court panel unanimously affirmed a judgment against Hobart Brothers Co.—a defendant in Nelson—in a different case involving the same issue and the same plaintiff’s expert (Campbell v. Hobart Brothers), finding that his testimony did not violate the any-exposure theories established in Betz v. Pneumo Abex.
The company’s King’s Bench petition to the state supreme court stated, “Only swift and decisive review by this court of both Nelson and Campbell can ensure this court’s prior rulings are followed consistently by the lower courts.” Plaintiff Darlene Nelson reportedly argued that her expert did not rely on an “every fiber” or any-exposure causation theory, because her deceased husband was exposed to asbestos on a daily basis for three years. She also said that the defendants failed to show that an issue of immediate importance warranted the supreme court’s review. “It was not until after the Superior Court granted reargument en banc that defendants decided the normal appellate process was too slow,” she said. The supreme court denied the petition on April 3, 2014. See The Legal Intelligencer, April 7, 2014.