Court Affirms that Medical Science Supports “Continuous” Asbestos Trigger

In the recent Plant Insulation case, a California court addressed the evolution of the medical science behind the “continuous” asbestos trigger.

Our firm recently considered precisely this issue in the article Unsettling the Asbestos Dust, recently published in BNA Insights.  Based on new medical evidence, insurers have argued that injuries under their policies do not occur until the human body is overwhelmed by a threshold dose of asbestos fibers.  Our position is that such theories are not supported by medical science, and that a continuous trigger beginning at first exposure to asbestos remains the most scientifically and economically rational model to apply.

In Plant Insulation, the court agreed with our position by recognizing that recent developments in medicine and science have “confirmed and augmented” the long-established position that “injury to those who contract asbestos-related disease is deemed to commence upon inhalation  of asbestos fibers.” This well-reasoned and scientifically-bolstered opinion  is in direct conflict with the oft-raised insurer argument that an “Injury” under their policies only occurs after a threshold exposure has been reached.  The opinion also noted the scientific and practical uncertainties that make the continuous trigger rule the best reflection of the “insurer’s indemnity obligation under the respective policies, the insured’s expectations, and the true character of the damages that flow from a long-tail injury.”

Gilbert LLP is a Washington-based law firm specializing in litigation and strategic risk management, insurance recovery and complex dispute resolution.