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Case Study

Goldberg Segalla Secures Daubert Victory for Appliance Manufacturer in Product Liability/Toxic Tort Case

October 11, 2011
David S. Osterman

Goldberg Segalla successfully defended one of the world’s leading manufacturers of home appliances in a case involving plaintiffs who claimed their kitchen range produced unsafe levels of formaldehyde and caused personal injuries as well as damages to their real and personal property. The victory in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee highlights the nationwide capabilities of Goldberg Segalla’s Product Liability Practice Group to defend product liability and toxic tort claims against manufacturers. David S. Osterman, Chair of the group, handled the case.

In this case, the plaintiffs utilized testimony from an expert in claiming that exposure to formaldehyde was the medical cause of the plaintiffs’ injuries, that the range manufactured by our client was the source of formaldehyde in the residence, and that the range could hypothetically emit unsafe levels of formaldehyde if it were operating at the high temperature of an oven’s self-cleaning cycle and had a faulty component.

Our defense dismantled the plaintiffs’ expert witness testimony through a Daubert challenge, which requires expert testimony to be based upon sufficient facts or data and to be the product of reliable principles and methods that are applied reliably to the facts of the case. The court agreed with our challenge that the expert witness possessed no medical knowledge or qualifications to offer an opinion regarding medical causation; the readings from the instrument used in the investigation did not constitute relevant, proper, reliable or sufficient data; and the testimony regarding the self-cleaning feature was factually unsupported and legally irrelevant.

On August 29, 2011, the court issued its decision granting our motion to exclude the testimony of the plaintiffs’ expert witness, and two days later, the court granted summary judgment.