Toxic Tort/Environmental

Selman Breitman is one of the leading firms in the litigation of cases involving:

  • Asbestos
  • Talc
  • Benzene
  • Diacetyl
  • Drugs and medical devices
  • Chemicals
  • Mold
  • Silica
  • Welding fumes

Other Types Of Toxic And Mass Tort Litigation

Selman Breitman's wide-ranging experience in the defense of mass tort and toxic tort cases allows us to represent and counsel clients pertaining to matters involving any number of alternate materials and toxic substances. Regardless if the claim is for exposure to manganese from welding rods, wood dust, lead paint or any other harmful or toxic substances, our attorneys' experience, knowledge, training and skill in handling these matters will ensure an effective, efficient and well-organized defense.

Our Experience And Resources

Our firm serves as national coordinating counsel in the asbestos and benzene litigation fields and serves as regional and local counsel in many types of toxic and mass tort exposure cases. Our clients include product manufacturers, distributors, contractors, retailers, material suppliers, property owners and public utilities.

Success in the toxic and mass tort field requires the highest level of litigation skills, as well as a thorough knowledge of the complex science and medical issues involved in these cases. We have seasoned trial lawyers who have successfully tried cases not only in California, but also across the country. We find that challenging the plaintiffs' experts is an important step in achieving the best results, and this requires significant experience and knowledge with the subject matter and the experts who often testify in such claims.

Based upon our years of experience, our lawyers are part of a nationwide network of lawyers that shares information and databases on these matters, and we bring this expertise and experience to help our clients fight the significant exposure risk presented by these mass tort claims and individual toxic exposure cases.

Our law firm has authored numerous articles addressing both liability defense and insurance coverage issues arising out of toxic tort claims. Additionally, our lawyers have been speakers on numerous seminar panels on toxic tort issues. Our clients also receive in-house training, and we make sure they are always up-to-date on law and regulation changes that affect their industry.

We can help our clients not only defend local cases, but also develop a strategy for a nationwide defense of such matters. We can help locate the best lawyers throughout the country and assist in the retention of the most experienced and persuasive experts. Selman Breitman is truly a leader in this important area of the law.

If you would like to discuss a specific toxic or mass tort issue, please contact us to speak with a leading subject matter attorney.

Obtained defense verdict after three month trial involving 10,000 plaintiffs where jury awarded $300 million against other defendants.

Defended client corporation in a trial in which plaintiff claimed that he was dying from the cancer known as mesothelioma. The jury found unanimously for client corporation, finding that it was not negligent, nor was it liable under product liability theories.

Represented a manufacturer of airplane parts against a claim of silicosis from some of the sand used in the process. The case was litigated in Federal Court, and a jury trial resulted in a defense verdict based on the statute of limitations.

Successful defense of a gasket distributor in several asbestos cases in which plaintiffs have claimed illness, or death of another, as a result of an asbestos-related illness.

Defended an equipment manufacturer against claims of injury allegedly caused by exposure to asbestos-containing parts and materials during plaintiff's work as an electrician.

Defended a gasket supplier in a wrongful death mesothelioma case in San Francisco. A dismissal was obtained with a mutual waiver of costs on the eve of trial; plaintiffs' demand was six figures.

Represented a leading microwave popcorn manufacturer in a case alleging toxic exposure to diacetyl. After aggressive law, motion and discovery in the early stages of litigation the plaintiffs dismissed their claim.

Represented a former manufacturer of gaskets used in the automotive industry in a case alleging toxic exposure to asbestos. After extensive fact and expert discovery, the plaintiffs agreed to settle the case for an amount far below what other defendants in the case agreed to pay.

Defended client construction contractor against a claim by a plaintiff that he was exposed to asbestos through the work of client. Summary judgment was granted based on lack of causation.

Dismissal was obtained of a friction defendant in an asbestos case, despite the fact the defendant was identified during plaintiff's deposition, based upon research that plaintiff could not have purchased the alleged asbestos-containing product from the defendant.

Summary judgment was obtained for three product manufacturers after the tentative ruling was against the clients. Plaintiffs appealed the decision, including the trial court's application of Taylor v. Elliott Turbomachinery Co., Inc. (2009) 171 Cal. App. 4th 564, in which the California Court of Appeal concluded a defendant owes no duty of care to plaintiffs for asbestos-related injuries arising from exposure to products the defendant did not manufacturer or supply. Furthermore, California law provides a manufacturer has no duty to warn of the dangerous propensities of products or components it did not manufacture, supply or recommend.

Represented an oven manufacturer in a wrongful death asbestos matter. Plaintiffs claimed that their decedent, who passed away from mesothelioma, was exposed to asbestos from performing maintenance on the ovens allegedly manufactured by client. Plaintiffs sought millions of dollars in damages, including punitive damages, against client. A motion for summary judgment was filed on client's behalf. Plaintiffs' opposition relied upon three separate declarations to support their case, one from a plaintiff, one from decedent's co-worker, and one from plaintiffs' counsel himself. Aggressive objections were made to all three declarations on client's behalf, on various grounds. After extensive oral argument, the judge entirely disregarded one of the declarations, sustained every one of the objections to the two other declarations, and granted the summary judgment motion.

Represented a supplier of asbestos-containing cement pipe in a case brought by a husband and wife. Plaintiffs claimed the wife was dying of the cancer called mesothelioma and that she was exposed to asbestos via the work clothes of her laborer husband. Plaintiffs dismissed the supplier after a motion for summary judgment was filed on client's behalf. The case progressed to trial against the manufacturer of the asbestos-containing cement pipe. The jury returned a verdict in excess of $200 million against the manufacturer.

Summary judgment was obtained for two clients in a wrongful death asbestos case. Plaintiffs alleged that the decedent, who passed away from mesothelioma, was exposed to asbestos by clients while performing automotive brake repairs. Plaintiffs sought millions of dollars in damages, including punitive damages. A Motion for Summary Judgment was filed on all claims, contending that plaintiffs could not provide any admissible evidence linking the decedent with either client. The Eighth Judicial District Court ruled that no genuine issue of material fact existed, and that clients were entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Further, a Judgment was obtained for an award of costs against the plaintiffs.

In a significant mesothelioma case, an insulation contractor was defended at trial. Settlement was achieved one month into trial, with plaintiff coming well down to numbers discussed pre-trial. The case went on to a $25 million verdict against the other two defendants.

Summary judgment was granted in favor of a gasket manufacturer following the deposition of a co-worker, during which the co-worker identified the gasket manufacturer, but also testified that plaintiff's counsel advised him to sign an inaccurate declaration.

Dismissal of a boiler manufacturer was obtained in a living mesothelioma case in which plaintiff had positively identified client's boiler from a magazine advertisement. Summary judgment motion forced plaintiff to dismiss.

Obtained a non-suit at the close of plaintiff's case in a toxic tort case after 6 weeks of testimony. Client was alleged to have supplied asbestos containing electrical components to ships in the U.S. Navy.

Obtained a dismissal in a toxic tort case for a product manufacturer prior to hearing on summary judgment motion in a case in which plaintiffs were unable to obtain evidence to support their allegation that decedent worked with or around an asbestos-containing product for which manufacturer was responsible.

Represented "targeted" defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit. The wrongful death heirs claimed the decedent died of lung cancer as a result of asbestos exposure through his work with our client's gaskets. We took the deposition of the decedent's coworkers and obtained favorable information. We then prevailed on a summary judgment motion, avoiding a $200,000 demand to the client served just days prior to filing the summary judgment motion.

Defended an equipment manufacturer in an action by the survivors of a former Naval officer of injury and wrongful death allegedly caused by exposure to asbestos during decedent's work aboard Navy vessels.

Defended and resolved actions by individuals alleging exposure to toxins released from manufacturing facility. Use of expert reconstructions showed nominal potential for environmental exposure to toxins being transported to the plaintiffs' residences, based upon the historical weather patterns and topography of the area surrounding the manufacturing facility.

Defended and resolved construction materials defendant in multi-million dollar asbestos exposure suit by prominent sports figure and actor after developing and passing away from mesothelioma. Through detailed examination of witnesses, were able to establish minimal exposure to the client's products and exaggerated damages allegations. Matter resolved at a small fraction of the initial multi-million dollar demand.

Obtained judgment of non-suit in stomach cancer case alleged from asbestos exposure. After deposition testimony of plaintiff's medical experts established lack of causal relationship between exposure and disease, defense precluded experts from testifying at trial. The resultant inability to prove the medical aspects of their case led to the non-suit in favor of client defendant.

Provided national counsel services for a manufacturer of chemicals for the print industry. A federal action was brought against client in Mississippi, claiming that a woman who worked in a printing shop died as a result of acute lymphocytic leukemia, allegedly as a result of exposure to benzene claimed to be present as a contaminant in products to which she claimed exposure. Working with local counsel, motions were brought to exclude the testimony of plaintiff's primary liability expert and for summary judgment. The federal judge agreed that the expert could not express his opinions at trial, and as a result, summary judgment was granted.

Represented client retail store in a trial brought by a man dying of the cancer called mesothelioma. The plaintiff claimed that his disease was a result of exposure to asbestos from products sold by client. After a six-week trial, the jury unanimously returned a defense verdict in favor of client.

Represented a global manufacturer of solvents used in the printing industry in multiple cases alleging toxic exposure to benzene. Several voluntary dismissals were secured, while all the other cases resulted in a favorable settlement prior to trial.

Dismissal was obtained for a waiver of costs on behalf of a talc supplier, after filing a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that there was no evidence that decedent was exposed to asbestos from any products containing talc supplied by client. Plaintiffs alleged that decedent developed mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos while serving in the U.S. Navy, while working as a truck driver, and while performing construction work.

A favorable resolution was obtained in a binding arbitration in a toxic mold case on behalf of a commercial property owner. Plaintiff's demand was several million dollars in damages. Stachybotrys and other toxic molds had invaded a commercial building, and the building was subsequently evacuated. Through cross-examination of plaintiff and her medical experts, the arbitrator was convinced that there was no credible evidence that the mold exposure did anything more than act as a temporary irritant.

In a toxic tort matter, an elderly plaintiff was inadvertently served and swallowed water containing a small amount of bleach at a fast-food restaurant. Damages of more than one million dollars were sought based on plaintiff's allegation that her quality of life was permanently damaged by the caustic injuries she sustained, including alleged loss of taste. The deposition of the Emergency Room physician who initially treated plaintiff established that there was no evidence of caustic burns, and only mild redness and swelling. This testimony, coupled with scientific evidence from a chemist establishing that the caustic nature of the quantity of chemicals plaintiff ingested was no greater than what one would sustain when swallowing a mouthful of water in a swimming pool, led to an early settlement of the case for a low five-figure sum.

Plaintiffs' counsel has in its possession all of our client's work files, which include details of work sites and products used (including at times the use of asbestos-containing thermal insulation). Accordingly, in cases such as this, the plaintiffs allege exposure at all sites where there is overlap with the plaintiff's work sites and work files. This case is a good example wherein we analyzed in detail the testimony of the plaintiff and the information obtained in the work files regarding those overlap sites to determine whether there was a potential for asbestos exposure from our client's work. Through our successful negotiation of these facts regarding eight different work sites, we obtained a voluntary dismissal.


News and Publications

Selman Team Obtains 12-0 Defense Verdict Selman Partner Peter Mintzer Discusses Impact of PFAS Litigation during 2022 EECM Conference Four Selman Breitman Attorneys Selected as 2021 Northern California Super Lawyers Three Selman Breitman Attorneys Selected as 2021 Southern California Super Lawyers Rising Stars 2020 Southern California Rising Stars Announced
Selman Breitman Attorneys Honored as 2020 Southern California Super Lawyers Washington Court of Appeals Rules Wood Waste Is a Hazardous Substance Under the State Superfund Statute San Francisco Attorneys Named 2019 Super Lawyers and Rising Stars 2019 Southern California Rising Stars Announced John Katerndahl and Holly Beal Successfully Defend Personal Injury Asbestos Case with $16M+ in Claimed Damages Mark Love Co-Authors "Toxic Tort" Chapter of Legal Nurse Consulting Textbook Partner John Katerndahl Named to ABOTA Jerel Agatep Receives Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US) Credential David Hynes Joins Selman Breitman's Insurance Coverage Practice in Seattle Mark Love Joins Elite LCA Fellowship DRI's The Voice Features Selman’s Defense Win in David Copperfield/MGM Litigation San Francisco Attorneys Named 2018 Super Lawyers and Rising Stars Adam Houtz Joins Selman Breitman's Los Angeles Office Seattle Partners Ranked in 2018 Washington Super Lawyers Las Vegas Attorneys Named 2018 Super Lawyers Two Associates Named to Key Positions With Filipino Bar Association of Northern California 2018 Southern California Rising Stars Announced Selman Breitman Seattle Office Moves to One Union Square Selman Breitman Again Ranked a Law360 Best Law Firm for Female Attorneys Daira Waldenberg Joins Selman Breitman's Seattle Office Law360 Announces 400 Largest U.S. Law Firms Jerry Popovich Inducted into American College of Trial Lawyers Jerel Agatep Joins Selman Breitman's San Francisco Office Shelley Tinkoff Joins Selman Breitman's San Francisco Office Selman Breitman Attorneys Honored as 2018 Southern California Super Lawyers Former Sedgwick Partner Joins Selman Breitman Selman Breitman Names Eight New Partners Across Four Offices Thorough Investigation Leads To Successful Discretionary Motion To Dismiss Four Selman Breitman Attorneys Named LCA Senior Fellows Selman Obtains Summary Judgment Victory in Alameda on behalf of Defendant in Heavily Contested Asbestos Lawsuit Selman Breitman Welcomes New Associates Cindy Tran and Landon Greene Even the CA Supreme Court's "Take-Home" Asbestos Decision Cannot Stop This Selman Win! Daily Journal Publishes Mark Love Article on Bill Limiting Plaintiff Depositions in Asbestos Cases Selman Breitman Welcomes Michael Carey and Daniel Heath as Associates Selman Breitman Welcomes Two New Associates Three Selman Breitman Attorneys to Present at CLM National Selman Breitman Honored For a Top Defense Verdict in 2016 Welcome Adam Jones to Portland Loretta Douglas Joins Selman Breitman's Seattle Office Another Selman Breitman Jury Trial Win Matthew Quigg Joins Selman Breitman's Seattle Office Selman Breitman's $10 Million Asbestos Verdict for Amcord Featured in DRI's The Voice Take-Home Exposure to Asbestos Ruling Raises New Questions Selman Breitman's $10 Million Asbestos Verdict Reported in the Daily Journal Selman Breitman Obtains Defense Verdict For Amcord, Inc. in $10 Million Los Angeles Mesothelioma Trial Commercial Litigation and Environmental Practice Groups Collaborate to Prevail in Commercial Lease Lawsuit Orange County Trial Team Prevails in Asbestos-Related Cancer Case Jerry Popovich to Speak at ASCDC Annual Meeting Noted Toxic Tort and Products Defense Partner Joins Seattle Office Asir Fiola Presents Seminar on Asbestos to Orange County Legal Secretaries Association Scott Goldberg To Moderate Roundtable At 2015 Perrin Cutting-Edge Issues In Asbestos Litigation A Long Battle Results in Another Defense Verdict for Selman Breitman Selman Breitman Trial Team Wins After Jury Is Asked To Award $43 Million In Home Furnace Case Selman Breitman's Orange County Attorneys Prevail On Summary Judgment Eldon Edson & Laura Ramos Obtain Summary Judgment For Insurer In Action Arising Out Of Employment Practices Endorsement Another Defense Jury Verdict In A Highly Emotional Asbestos Cancer Case SB Partner, Scott Goldberg, Serves As Legal Technical Advisor For Upcoming Ted 2 Movie Selman Breitman Lawyers Win Yet Another Major Asbestos Jury Trial Selman Breitman Obtains Summary Judgment on Behalf of Electrical Component Manufacturer in Mesothelioma Case Jerry Popovich Wins A Top Defense Verdict of 2012 Jerry Popovich Granted Judgment of Nonsuit in Asbestos Case Past Medical Expenses: Amount Paid vs. Amount Billed. the Defense Wins Big in the California Supreme Court Recent Appellate Decision Favors Plaintiffs in Valuation of Past Medical Damages Update on San Francisco Asbestos Trial Dates and Settlement Conference Process Update on San Francisco Asbestos Settlement Conferences SCOTUS Rules CA Courts Lack Specific Jurisdiction to Entertain Injury Claims by Non-Residents (Bristol-Myers) Bill Favors Asbestos Plaintiffs Washington Supreme Court Finds Coverage for Bodily Injury from Carbon Monoxide Exposure Despite Policy's Broad Pollution Exclusion, Finds Bad Faith as a Matter of Law CDC Study Finds Mesothelioma Death Rates Higher Than Projections California Court Rejects Plaintiff’s Claim of ‘Possible’ Exposure to Asbestos CA Supreme Court Expands Take Home Asbestos Liability California Supreme Court Argument on Asbestos Take-Home Exposure Claims The California Court of Appeal Recently Affirmed that "Close" Is Not Close Enough When it Comes to Evidence Proving Only Possibilities of Asbestos Exposure Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Law Something to "Howell" About: Bill to Overturn Pro-Defendant Decision on Medical Costs Dies in California Legislature

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