Bockrath v. Aldrich Chemical Co. (1999) 21 Cal. 4th 71, 86 Cal. Rptr. 2d 846, 980 P.2d 398.
This was a very important case litigated by the Metzger Law Group in the California Supreme Court. Thomas Bockrath was a client of the Metzger Law Group who developed multiple myeloma from occupational exposure to benzene and benzene-containing products. The defendants “demurred” to Mr. Bockrath’s complaint, arguing that his complaint was deficient, because he had not explained the mechanism by which benzene causes multiple myeloma. The trial judge agreed and dismissed Mr. Bockrath’s case. The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court, but the Metzger Law Group persuaded the California Supreme Court that the lower courts had erred and the Supreme Court reversed, ruling that Mr. Bockrath did not need to prove the mechanism by which benzene caused his multiple myeloma. Unfortunately, Mr. Bockrath died from multiple myeloma while his case was on appeal, so after winning in the California Supreme Court, his case was litigated by his heirs. In deciding the case, the California Supreme Court established specific elements for pleading medical causation in toxic tort cases in California. This appeal established the law for pleading toxic tort cases in California so workers suffering from toxic injuries who can satisfy the pleading requirements can have their day in court.