What is Toxic Tort Litigation?


Remember the movie, Erin Brockovich?  That movie told the story of a legal assistant’s discovery that Pacific Gas & Electric had been poisoning the water supply in the town of Hinkley, California for 30 years. Or how about John Travolta’s 1999 movie, A Civil Action? That was based on the true story of 8 Woburn, Massachusetts families whose children and spouses contracted and died of leukemia after the local water was contaminated by W.R. Grace Co told the story.

Why bring up movies in a law blog?

Because these movies are examples of toxic torts.

Toxic Tort Litigation.

A toxic tort is a legal claim for harm caused by exposure to, and injury from, a dangerous substance like pesticides, asbestos, pharmaceutical drugs, black mold, oil spills, groundwater contamination, or any number of things.

When someone who is injured by exposure to a toxin sues the company or person who caused the harm (which can be done unless the claim is exclusively covered by workers’ compensation), this is generally known as “toxic tort litigation.”

A toxic tort case is a type of personal injury action.

Toxic tort claims can arise in a number of contexts. They can occur from public exposure to toxins like the movie examples above where the drinking water was being contaminated, or they can occur when industry workers are exposed to toxins on the job (i.e., asbestos), or even in the home (toxic mold). Sometimes pharmaceutical drugs or consumer products (e.g., talcum powder, IUDs) that were believed to be safe turn out to be toxic.

Always Challenging.

Litigation is always demanding, but toxic tort litigation has its own special challenges.

One of the most contentious issues in a toxic tort case is often the issue of causation. Because it can take many years for a disease to manifest after initial exposure to the toxin (for example, mesothelioma) it can be difficult for the toxic tort plaintiff to weed out intervening sources of toxins and prove that his/her illness was indeed caused by the specific chemical used, manufactured or distributed by the defendant (depending on whether plaintiff’s theory is one of negligence or product liability) and not from some other source – like exposure to some other chemical or drug, or smoking cigarettes.

Another challenge faced in a toxic tort case is that of evidence. Again, because many years have often intervened between the exposure and the manifestation of the disease or illness suffered by the plaintiff, evidence may be hard to come by.

Here to Help You.

No matter what your situation is if you have been exposed to toxins and believe you have been injured as a result, contact us ToDayAt the Day Law Group, we handle personal injury cases including mesothelioma cases. We offer FREE consultations, and we don’t get paid unless you win your case. We have offices in Baton Rouge and we serve Baker, Denham, Gonzales, Port Allen, Prairieville, New Orleans, and Zachary. Call (225) 465-1232 ToDay to schedule your free consultation or contact us here.

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