Pennsylvania State Court Rejects The “Any-Breath” / “Every Exposure” Theory On Appeal Of A $14.5 Million Verdict In Welder’s Mesothelioma Death Case

In the Nelson v. Airco Welders Supply case an individual who worked as a welder at a steel plant for 33 years was exposed to various asbestos-containing products. A couple of years after leaving the steel plant this worker was diagnosed with mesothelioma and, unfortunately, he died about one year later.

His death came before this asbestos-mesothelioma lawsuit trial was heard by a jury, which returned a verdict in the amount of $14.5 million for the plaintiffs, the deceased worker’s survivors.

At trial the plaintiffs’ expert testified that “every exposure must be considered a cause of the disease” — which in asbestos litigation is the so-called “any-breath” or “every exposure” theory of causation.

The defendants appealed. And before the Superior Court of Pennsylvania issued its appellate ruling for Nelson v. Airco Welders Supply, in another asbestos case — Betz v. Pneumo Abex, LLC, 44 A.3d 27 (Pa. 2012) —  the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected the “any-breath” theory.

With the Betz v. Pneumo Abex opinion being the “law” as regards asbestos-mesothelioma causation in Pennsylvania, the Nelson v. Airco Welders Supply court reversed the plaintiffs’ trial verdict insofar that this result was substantially based on the “any-breath” expert testimony.

In contrast, the Maryland Supreme Court recently ruled that an expert may testify that “every exposure to asbestos is a substantial contributing cause” of mesothelioma.

We will continue to monitor the asbestos-mesothelioma litigation for significant rulings and report them here on the Asbestos HUB blog.


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