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Horvitz & Levy is a solutions-based firm focused on appellate success. We are distinguished by our commitment to responsive service and on-going innovation in the areas of civil appellate litigation, amicus curiae support, and trial strategy consultation.

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Horvitz & Levy LLP represented defendants Chevron U.S.A., Inc. (Chevron), Shell Oil Company (Shell), and Union Oil Company of California (Unocal) in this products liability case. Plaintiff William Molina, who worked at a tire manufacturing plant for 17 years, alleged that his occupational exposure to solvents manufactured by Chevron, Shell, and Unocal caused him to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After a five-week trial, the jury returned a defense verdict on Molina’s design-defect and failure-to-warn claims. Molina appealed.

The California Court of Appeal (Second Appellate District, Division Eight), affirmed the judgment. The court rejected Molina’s contention that the trial court should have instructed the jury with CACI No. 435, a pattern jury instruction that applies to “asbestos-related cancer claims.” CACI No. 435 is based on the California Supreme Court’s opinion in Rutherford v. Owens-Illinois, Inc. (1997) 16 Cal.4th 953 (Rutherford). The Court of Appeal in this case reasoned that CACI No. 435 did not apply because unlike Rutherford, the jury in this case had not already determined that the plaintiff’s exposure to the chemical caused his injury. The court also rejected Molina’s contention that the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury on the consumer expectations theory of design defect. The court concluded that Molina could not have prevailed on this theory, in light of the jury’s determination that the design of the defendants’ solvents did not cause his injury.