Brake Manufacturers Successfully Challenge Plaintiff’s Experts on Every Exposure and Causation
This case involves allegations that the plaintiff, Graham Yates, contracted mesothelioma from brake products of defendants Honeywell International, Inc. and Ford Motor Company. Honeywell moved to preclude evidence that brake dust causes pleural mesothelioma, and that “every exposure counts.” Ford moved to fully preclude the testimony of the plaintiff’s experts, Eugene Mark, M.D., Steve Hayes, and Arnold Brody, Ph.D.
In an extensive decision, the court ruled as follows: Brody and Hayes were not fully precluded from testifying, but Mark was. As the court held: “The inconsistencies, inaccuracies, logical gaps, and absence of clearly cited authorities for fundamental aspects of Mark’s ‘visible dust’ theory are deeply troubling. The effect of Mark’s opinions is to deluge the trier of fact with a storm of questionable statistics, without guidance as to how these statistics establish a generally hazardous level of exposure to the forms of asbestos found in brake products. The opinion is lacking in sufficient factual support as to this aspect of causation, and is not helpful in understanding evidence or determining a fact. Thus, on this basis, the court is compelled to exclude Mark’s opinions.”
Regarding any of the remaining experts’ testimony on the “each and every exposure” theory, the court granted the motion, holding: “In this case, the complainants have not shown that expert testimony and evidence espousing this theory has the sufficient support of facts or data, nor have they shown that it is testable, published in peer-reviewed works, or has any error rate. Accordingly, the court will exclude testimony as to this theory.” The court also rejected Mark on causation and precluded opinion testimony that brake dust causes mesothelioma, holding “the ‘scientific evidence’ which Mark cites does not establish a general level at which chrysotile asbestos becomes hazardous. Because Mark does not otherwise establish such a level, his testimony as to causation is not a product of reliable principles or methods.”
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