In an article published 1/26 in Bloomberg Law, Segal McCambridge Shareholder Anthony (Tony) Sbarra discusses how, when considering toxic tort cases, a litigator must determine if the substance being litigated is capable of causing the disease and how much the plaintiff was exposed to.
“With cases involving cancer, particularly mesothelioma, genetic science adds to the analysis and provides information that may change the question entirely in some cases,” Tony writes.
Tony explains there are two types of genetic cases: somatic or random genetic mutations and germline genetic mutations. Certain mesotheliomas are linked to inherited germline mutations and this subgroup of cancers occurs in individuals who rarely report asbestos exposure—which may mean something else caused the cancer.
“While heritable gene mutations can predispose an individual to cancer—that is, lower the amount of exposure necessary to cause disease—they can also be sufficient to cause cancers, including mesothelioma, in and of themselves,” Tony writes. “The presence of a heritable germline mutation, absent or independent of extrinsic factors such as asbestos exposure, can cause mesothelioma.”
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