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Toxic Battery

Toxic torts (toxic exposure cases) typically involve claims of negligence or strict liability. However, in recent years, cognizable claims for toxic battery have succeeded in many courts. Again, the intent necessary to constitute a tortious battery need not be an intent to cause harm, but rather, the intent to do the act which ultimately causes the harm. Companies that manufacture chemicals that are known to be volatile or known to ultimately result in human contact are vulnerable to such claims. They may be sued for illegal disposal of toxic/hazardous materials as well as toxic battery if persons are harmed by leached chemicals or fumes in the air, ground, or water. The intent was not to harm others, but to dump the material in an illegal manner or location. This is a good example of gross negligence or recklessness so egregious as to constitute the requisite intent to commit battery under law.

Cases of toxic batteries began appearing in the late 1900s. In the early case of Gulden v. Crown Zellerbach Corp. (9th Circuit, 1989), the court held that exposing workers to PCBs (known carcinogens and harmful agents) at 500 times the maximum exposure allowed under EPA standards could constitute a battery. Toxic battery also became an element in many of the tobacco and breast implant cases. Obviously, such cases often involve multiple plaintiffs and multiple defendants, and may become class action suits in the case of widespread exposure to harm.

Inside Toxic Battery