In an opinion that illustrates the challenges involved with proving causation in a product exposure case, a Kentucky appellate court found insufficient evidence of exposure to Defendants’ asbestos-containing products to sustain a products liability action. See Mannahan v. Eaton Corp., No. 2013-CA-002005-MR (Ky. Ct. App. Jul. 18, 2016).
Plaintiff worked on heavy equipment at various mining sites from the 1960s to the 1980s, at times performing brake repairs and replacements resulting in the release of asbestos dust. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2011 and died from the disease in 2014. Defendants manufactured or sold various asbestos-containing brake parts, which Plaintiff alleged were among those to which he was exposed. The trial court granted Defendants’ motion for summary judgment because Plaintiff failed to show it was exposure to Defendants’ products that caused his disease.
The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding Plaintiff had not identified sufficient evidence for a jury to conclude that Defendants’ asbestos-containing products had caused the Plaintiff’s illness. Plaintiff offered no evidence that Defendants’ parts were actually on any of the equipment he serviced during his career. It was, the Court said, just as likely that the Plaintiff was exposed to other manufacturers’ asbestos products as Defendants’ products; “pure speculation” is the only method by which a jury could conclude Defendants’ products caused Plaintiff’s disease.