Toxic tort defense: Avoid these three hurdles

Toxic tort cases are complex legal beasts. Business owners that find their business accused of a toxic tort crime must prepare for a difficult case. Part of the difficulties that are inherent to these cases is the many hurdles that defendants can find themselves facing before they reach the courtroom.

Three examples include:

  • Venue selection. Venue is a legal term that refers to the location of the trial. Proper venue selection will require a review of many factors, including where the defendant and plaintiff live, where the defendant conducts business, where the accident or exposure occurred and other events that contributed to the injury that led to the lawsuit. The plaintiff generally files the lawsuit in their preferred location, but the defendant can request a transfer to another court. The defendant must generally establish that there is good reason to support the transfer before a court would grant such a request.
  • Evidence. Plaintiffs to a toxic tort case must generally provide information on the toxins that allegedly led to an injury. Once identified, the plaintiff must then establish a causal nexus between the toxin and the injury. This can be done at the pleading stage of the case as required per Bockrath v. Aldrich Chemical Co. The plaintiff could also establish this nexus closer to trial, using the Cottle v. Oxnard Shores Company hearing.
  • Damages. A plaintiff may make their intentions for damage awards clear early on. This can include medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, wrongful death and pain and suffering. The plaintiff may also request additional punitive damages, monetary awards demanded by the court with the intention of further punishing the accused for their alleged wrongdoing.

In some cases, the accused may consider formation a joint defense group. The American Bar Association, a group of legal professionals from throughout the country, recommend the use of this type of group in toxic tort cases that involve a large number of defendants. 

This is just one legal strategy that can reduce the costs associated with litigating a toxic tort claim. An attorney experienced in these claims can review any allegations a business faces and discuss the best course of action to preserve the business’ reputation while also reducing the financial burden that can accompany this form of litigation.