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Michigan Could Dismiss Thousands of Asbestos Lawsuits

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In Michigan, over 2,000 lawsuits could be subject to dismissal after a state court judge has excluded what is no longer considered expert testimony. The judge ruled that Dr. R Michael Kelly, an internist and occupational medical specialist who has diagnosed many individuals with asbestos-related illnesses, can not be considered an expert, and therefore cannot provide expert testimony. According to the court, Dr. Kelly is not a radiologist nor is he certified to read x-rays. In addition, his testimony did not meet the standards of reliability set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Defendants in many of these cases have refuted Dr. Kelly’s diagnosis with the expert opinion of an independent radiologist who said that the x-rays offered no evidence of asbestos-related disease in the plaintiffs. If the plaintiffs in these instances are unable to deliver testimony from another expert(s) who can offer expert testimony that the injuries were asbestos related, the cases may be dismissed.

This ruling is part of a growing trend, which asks plaintiffs to establish a greater level of proof, for asbestos lawsuits in the United States, which is making it more difficult to bring these claims to trial. Just last month, over 30,000 asbestos lawsuits were dismissed from the Ohio courts as a result of a ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court which allowed a 2004 state law imposing strict requirements on plaintiffs to be applied retroactively.