The Prosecution Calls a Former W.R. Grace Consultant and a Former Laboratory Researcher.
Court was called to order this morning with Dr. Daniel Teitelbaum on the stand. Judge Molloy was careful through his testimony to explain to the jury that Dr. Teitelbaum could not testify as an expert witness. Judge Molloy instructed the jury that Dr. Teitelbaum could only testify as a fact witness about the report he prepared for W.R. Grace in 1978. Judge Molloy explained the scientific criteria required for an expert opinion had not been met with Dr. Teitelbaum, and therefore the jury should only use his testimony as to any notice W.R. Grace might have had at the time for dangers of asbestos. Further, the jury should not give any weight to the opinions which were in the reports.
Dr. Teitelbaum testified he had examined a group of unknown x-rays from workers at the mine in Libby and the mine in South Carolina, both owned by W.R. Grace. The only information contained on the x-rays were the last name, the age, and the film. Dr. Teitelbaum testified he proposed to W.R. Grace that he and two other independent radiologists examine the x-rays and write reports on their findings.
Prosecuting attorney Kevin Cassidy then introduced government exhibit 175 into evidence. The evidence had previously been introduced, but did not include the first three pages of a letter from Dr. Teitelbaum to defendant Eschenbach, dated August 25, 1978. Dr. Teitelbaum testified that the letter reported the high attack rate of asbestos in the Libby group, which was not present in the South Carolina group. Dr. Teitelbaum further testified that the incidence of asbestos-related disease in Libby was independent of age, meaning age was not a factor in determining the adverse health effects. Finally , Dr. Teitelbaum testified that W.R. Grace did not do the follow-up study as recommended by the doctors which ended the direct examination.
Defense attorney Barbara Harding started the cross-examination of Dr. Teitelbaum next. She recalled exhibit 127, a letter from Eschenbach to Dr. Teitelbaum where Eschenbach said W.R. Grace had been taking workers’ x-rays from 1964. Dr. Teitelbaum could not recall if he knew that information or not. Harding also forced Dr. Teitelbaum to testify that he did not know any of the procedures done by W.R. Grace to protect workers before his report. He also testified he did not know if W.R. Grace had any preventative measures put in place after his report. Further, the x-rays were only for workers at the Libby mines, and Dr. Teitelbaum did not know how long the workers had been at the mine or what any previous work history for any of the x-rays.
Defense attorney Gary Winters next took over the cross examination of Dr. Teitelbaum. Winters tried to shift the focus away from his client Eschenbach by showing Eschenbach went out for a full day to meet with Dr. Teitelbaum. They engaged in a complete discussion about the study before it began.
After a brief redirect by Cassidy, the prosecution next called hostile witness Julie Yang to the stand. Kris McLean started the testimony with general questions about Yang’s background, including her education, work experience, and current work status.
Yang was a research group manager at W.R. Grace in chemical research. Her boss at the time was Dr. Duecker. Yang worked in the laboratory, and part of her duties was to analyze the asbestos contained in the vermiculite. Those under her supervision collected air samples while working with vermiculite in the lab and used microscopes to record the number of fibers. Yang testified she was very careful with her workers in the laboratory when working with vermiculite because it was so dangerous.
Yang testified she recommended an animal study in 1975. She further testified that if W.R. Grace wanted to know if its materials were bad, it had to do this study. She claimed she was unaware when she started at W.R. Grace of the dangers of its materials, but if W.R. Grace had any doubts, then the company should do her recommended study.
With that testimony, Judge Molloy called the morning recess. The prosecution is still trying to patch together a version of events that shows the defendants knew of the dangers of asbestos through their own studies and reports.
–Maggie Braun, 1:15pm