Product labels are not hearsay, cancer victim’s family tells Calif. appeals court

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Product labels are not hearsay, cancer victim’s family tells Calif. appeals court


A trial judge’s ruling that offering a product label as evidence the package contained the product noted on the label was inadmissible hearsay is an extreme, unsupportable reading of the law, plaintiffs in a California friction-products suit say.

The plaintiffs are surviving family members of a shade-tree mechanic who allegedly died of mesothelioma. They say his illness resulted at least in part from his exposure to asbestos in friction products made by defendant, Pneumo Abex LLC.


Donald Smalley’s wife and children sued Abex in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging he was exposed to asbestos in the company’s brake products. Smalley died of mesothelioma.

His sons, Michael and Mitchell, testified that they recalled accompanying their father to auto repair supply shops many times where he asked the clerks for Abex products. They also said they recalled seeing him using brakes in Abex-labeled boxes.


The defendant said the Smalleys were unable to prove product identification because the only evidence connecting their products to Donald Smalley’s activities was from Michael and Mitchell’s testimony, which should be inadmissible as hearsay.


Judge Amy D. Hogue agreed that a product’s labeling could not be used to accurately identify the manufacturer of a particular product.

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