“The interplay between causation in scientific research and legal causation in the courtroom has been a long-standing dichotomy that has challenged, and in some cases perplexed, some of our country’s most learned judges,” writes Joseph J. Welter, Chair of Goldberg Segalla’s Toxic Tort and Environmental Practice Group.
In a piece for the ABA Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Committee Newsletter, Joe looks at the use of science cited as evidence in two prominent talc and ovarian cancer cases — one tried in St. Louis, Missouri, the other tried in New Jersey Superior Court.
“A court’s willingness or legal ability to critically scrutinize the underlying scientific basis of an expert’s opinions is at the heart of the debate,” says Joe as he compares the expert testimony allowed in each case. In New Jersey, the court did not allow the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony due to a failure to acknowledge aspects of the scientific method, while in St. Louis, expert testimony with conclusions based on casual associations were permitted.
Noting that both cases are now facing appeal, Joe concludes by stating, “In the meantime, other talc-product manufacturers, distributors, and retailers wait in the wings to see whether this will be the ‘next’ emerging mass tort litigation in our country.”