Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Bad Science Beats Good in Bad Carpet Case

Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Bad Science Beats Good in Bad Carpet Case

Article excerpt

Interpreting the U.S. Supreme Court's Daubert doctrine in an opinion by Chief Judge Becker, a panel of the Third Circuit affirmed a defense summary judgment in a product liability case, but the court also opined that some of the rulings below were erroneous in excluding certain portions of the plaintiffs' proffered expert testimony. Heller v. Shaw Industries Inc., 167 F.3d 146 (1999).

The plaintiffs sued a carpet manufacturer on the claim that its product emitted volatile organic compounds, known as VOCs, that caused respiratory illnesses. They alleged breach of warranty, failure to warn, negligent and intentional misrepresentation, defective design, and violation of Pennsylvania's consumer protection statutes; they sought compensatory and punitive damages. After the trial judge granted the defendant's in limine motion to exclude the testimony of the plaintiffs' two experts, the plaintiffs were left with no evidence of causation, and a defense summary judgment was granted. 1997 WL 535163 (E.D. Pa., not reported in F.Supp.).

One of the experts, Joseph Papano, a physician certified in internal medicine and allergy-immunology, stated in discovery that on the basis of differential diagnosis, he concluded that the defendant's carpet caused the plaintiffs' respiratory problems. …

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