Illinois Supreme Court should nix asbestos exposure chart

The Madison County Record Mar. 27, 2011, 5:14pm

When you have sex with someone, you are having sex with everyone they have had sex with for the last ten years, and everyone they and their partners have had sex with for the last ten years. -- C. Everett Koop, former U.S. Surgeon General

Dr. Koop may have had a kinky white beard, but he sure was a party pooper. Nothing spoils the appeal of lots of sex like a sexual exposure chart. But it does put things in perspective.

If you've had three sex partners, you've been exposed to seven people – assuming your partners were no more promiscuous than you were. If you've had six sex partners, you've been exposed to at least 63 people, and probably more. If you've had 12 sex partners, you've been exposed to more than 4,000 people, conservatively speaking.

Scary, isn't it? And a good argument for premarital abstinence and postmarital fidelity.

But does the same logic apply to asbestos exposure?

Some plaintiffs attorneys want you and the Illinois Supreme Court to think so.

According to their latest theory of tort liability and jackpot justice, a person exposed to a person exposed to asbestos has, as a result, been indirectly exposed – and thus deserves the legal right to make a claim against the manufacturer or employer by which the first person was exposed.

Theoretically, of course, and given a limitless chain of indirect exposure, almost everybody on the earth can claim to have been contaminated, however remotely, by someone with direct exposure. The pool of potential plaintiffs is thus limited only by the number of people on the planet.

As noted by Kurt Reitz, attorney for CSX Transportation, defendant in a pioneering case of "take-home" asbestos exposure, "The list of potential plaintiffs is endless."

Let's hope the Illinois Supreme Court resists the temptation to create an asbestos exposure chart.

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