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A National Compendium of Causation Standards in Asbestos Litigation: Hawkins Parnell Thackston Young

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Litigation Parnell Hawkins Standards Compendium

A National Compendium of Causation Standards in Asbestos Litigation

Updated: May 2015

A National Compendium of Causation Standards in Asbestos Litigation: Hawkins Parnell Thackston Young

Courts across the country have announced causation standards to be applied to asbestos cases.  Most courts cite the “Lohrmann Test” as the standard for asbestos causation—requiring plaintiffs to show asbestos inhalation in terms of “frequency, regularity, and proximity.” But few courts give any guidance on the just how frequent, regular or proximate plaintiffs contact must be to satisfy the standard.  Texas has gone the furthest to elucidate the standard, and other states should follow suit.

The following is compendium of reported decisions from across the country. We publish this with the hope that others from across the country will share any orders or other news on how their local trial courts have actually applied these standards in asbestos cases. to contact Edward Slaughter with updates.

Lohrmann Test

California Standard

Texas Standard

Miscellaneous Approaches

District of Columbia
New Jersey
New Mexico
North Carolina
Rhode Island
South Carolina


New York



Relevant case: Rutherford v. Owens-Illinois, Inc., 941 P.2d 1203 (Cal. 1997); Sclafani v. Air & Liquid Sys. Corp., 14 F. Supp. 3d 1351 (C.D. Cal. 2014).

Standard adopted by highest state court? Yes

Standard: Exposure to Risk Test

The action in Rutherford involved a decedent who worked as a sheet metal worker and engineering technician for forty years. 941 P.2d at 1207.The Under California law, plaintiffs can prove causation by demonstrating (1) exposure to a defendant’s asbestos-containing product with reasonable medical probability exposure and (2) exposure was a substantial factor in increasing the risk of the asbestos-related injury.  Id. at 1219. Plaintiff does not have to demonstrate that fibers from a defendant's product were the ones that actually caused the asbestos-related disease.  Id. Contribution of the defendant’s product to the asbestos-related injury must be more than negligible or theoretical.  Id. at 1220. Although the trial court erroneously provided burden-shifting jury instructions that led to a verdict in favor of plaintiff, the court found the instruction was not prejudicial. Id. at 1225. In Sclafani, the court rejected the any exposure theory, finding it only offered speculative evidence of frequency, regularity, and proximity of the plaintiff’s exposure. 14 F. Supp. 3d at 1359.


Relevant case: Lyons v. Garlock, Inc., 12 F. Supp. 2d 1226 (D. Kan. 1998).

Standard adopted by highest state court? Statute

Standard: Lohrmann

Under Kansas law, a plaintiff must establish that alleged exposure to asbestos was a substantial factor in causing the injury. In determining whether exposure was a substantial factor, the court will consider, without limitation, the following factors: (1) the manner in which the plaintiff was exposed; (2) the proximity to the plaintiff when the exposure occurred; (3) the frequency and length of the plaintiff’s exposure; and (4) any factors that mitigated or enhanced the plaintiff’s exposure. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-4907. In Lyons, plaintiff was unable to offer any evidence demonstrating the defendant’s asbestos-products were used throughout the plant. 12 F. Supp. 2d at 1229. In addition, the insulators who knew the defendant’s product were used at the plant were unable to provide whether plaintiff did any insulation work with the defendant’s product. Id. The court first observed that under Kansas law, a plaintiff must prove that a particular defendant’s product caused their injuries. Id. at 1228. It was held in order to establish exposure to a defendant’s asbestos-related product that caused injury, a plaintiff must prove evidence of exposure to that specific product (1) on a regular basis, (2) over some extended period of time, (3) in proximity to where the plaintiff actually worked.  Id. at 1229. Plaintiff’s argument for a modified approach was rejected after the Lohrmann test was found “well-formulated” by the Tenth Circuit in Dillon.Id. at 1228.


Relevant case: Menne v. Celotex Corp., 861 F.2d 1453 (10th Cir. 1988).

Standard adopted by highest state court? No

Standard used in Menne:

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