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Asbestos-Superior Court adopts "frequency, regularity, proximity" test for causation

The Superior Court has adopted the "frequency, regularity, proximity" test for proof of causation in asbestos.  The Court considered and rejected several alternative tests: the "exposure-to-risk" test, the "defendant-specific-dosage-plus-substantial-factor" test, and the "each and every exposure" test. 

To satisfy the "frequency, regularity, proximity" test, plaintiff must present evidence showing exposure to a particular product, on a regular basis, over an extended period of time and in proximity to where plaintiff actually worked.  Mere proof that plaintiff and a certain product are in the same location at the same time, without more, does not prove exposure to the product.  Plaintiff can rely on testimony of coworkers including circumstantial evidence that plaintiff worked in proximity to someone who remembers using the defendant's product. 

In adopting the "frequency, regularity, proximity" test, the Court noted that in cases in which the plaintiff presents direct evidence of exposure to a particular product over a period of time the test has "somewhat diminished importance" because that relieves the trier of fact from "the need to infer probability from disparate sources of proof."  Similarly, where plaintiff has mesothelioma as a result of exposure to a particular defendant's product, it is less cumbersome to meet the frequency and regularity prongs because medical science has established that mesothelioma can develop from less intense exposures to asbestos than other asbestos-related diseases, such as asbestosis. 

Sweredoski v. Alfa Laval, Inc., P.C. 2011-1544 (R.I. Super. June 13, 2013). 

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