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Rubanick v. Witco Chemical Corp.

593 A.2d 733 (1991)

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Rubanick v. Witco Chemical Corp.

Supreme Court of New Jersey

593 A.2d 733 (1991)

Facts

Ronald Rubanick and Anthony Demaio (plaintiffs) worked at a chemical plant operated by Witco Chemical Corporation (defendant). Both Rubanick and Demaio were exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a toxin. Within four years of each other, both Rubanick and Demaio developed colon cancer and died. Their survivors sued Witco and Monsanto Company (defendant), Witco’s supplier for PCB fluids, for wrongful death. At trial, Dr. Balis testified on behalf of the plaintiffs. Dr. Balis testified that he believed that Rubanick’s colon cancer was caused by exposure to PCBs. He reached this conclusion in part because of his review of 39 scientific articles. Thirteen of these articles supported the theory that PCBs cause cancer. The trial court held that Dr. Balis’s testimony was inadmissible, because his conclusions were not generally accepted by the scientific community, and granted summary judgment to Witco and Monsanto. On appeal, the court reversed and remanded, holding that the general acceptance test of reliability for theories of causation was inadequate for toxic-tort cases. The survivors of Rubanick and Demaio appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Handler, J.)

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