Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The Washington Legal Foundation has published "Causation in Court: Working Principles for Toxic Tort Cases" (pdf) authored by Antony Klapper, a partner in the DC office of Reed Smith.
The paper focuses on "toxic substances and disease causation," and proposes the following "six working principles that may render 'causation' a less mysterious element to understand and apply":
- Causation in science is not synonymous with causation in law, but the gap has closed.
- Proof of general causation requires, at a minimum, reliable epidemiology and a statistically significant estimated relative risk of more than 2.0.
- Proving causation does not end with the general causation inquiry. Proof of specific causation is absolutely essential before any causal conclusions can be drawn.
- Risk assessment is the best tool available to answer questions of causation.
- Although risk assessment is the best tool available, regulatory rules for implementing risk assessments should not be used, and too often are abused.
- Where there are multiple exposure sources for the same toxin, a more principled, objectively reliable methodology should be used to answer questions of causation. Concepts such as “substantial contributing” cause should be jettisoned.
(Thanks to Life Sciences Legal Update).