New Jersey Strengthens Trial Judge’s Guardian Function in Expert Eligibility | Harris Beach PLLC

In a recent decision, the New Jersey Court of Appeals applied the expert admissibility standard to the landmark New Jersey Supreme Court decision. In re Accutane Litig., 234 NJ 340 (2018) as a basis for the recovery of two disputes involving several counties alleging ovarian cancer caused by Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder. Carl vs. Johnson & Johnson, A-0387-16T1, Balderama vs. Johnson & Johnson, A-097816T1, 2020 WL 4497263, at * 1 [NJ Super Ct App Div Aug. 5, 2020]; (collectively “Carl”).

In Accutane, the Supreme Court of New Jersey authorized the review of the Daubert as part of the function of controlling the admissibility of court experts and applied the framework of the Reference Manual of the Federal Judicial Center on Scientific Evidence (the “Manual”). In re Accutane Litig., 234 NJ at 352-53. According to the Manual, evaluating the methodology of an epidemiological study poses three questions: (1) Whether the study supports an association between an agent and a disease; (2) Limitations of the study (bias, confusion, sampling error); and (3) Does the Evidence Support a Causal Link? Identifier. to 354.

The epidemiological approach takes several steps to determine whether there is an association between an agent and a specific disease. Having established an epidemiological association between exposure to a particular agent and the development of a specific disease, researchers must then ask whether this association “reflects a true cause and effect relationship”. Identifier.

The New Jersey Court of Appeals, following Accutane, discussed the determining factors presented by Sir Austin Bradford Hill[1] (the “Hill” factors) to determine whether an observed epidemiological association can support a “true cause and effect relationship”. Carl, at 2 hours. The new one hill the factors used to assess general causality are: (1) the strength of the association; (2) consistency of results; (3) specificity; (4) temporal relationship of exposure to the agent preceding the disease; (5) biological gradient; (6) biological plausibility; (7) consistency; (8) beneficial effect of taking preventive measures against the agent in question; and (9) analogy to the known causal relationship between another agent and a disease.

Epidemiological studies examine the question of “general causation”, that is, whether the agent is “capable of causing disease”. In contrast, the question of “specific causation” is whether an agent has caused disease in a particular individual. See Accutane, to 352. Although the hill factors may not serve as primary evidence for specific causation, epidemiological studies that support general causation may support specific causation when certain criteria are met, such as the degree of similarity of the complainant to the populations studied in terms of exposure , disease and other relevant factors. Username. at 7 O’clock.

In Carl, The complainants’ obstetrics / gynecology epidemiologist provided general and specific opinions to both complainants. The complainants’ chronic disease epidemiologist only commented on general causation. By applying the Accutane executive, the New Jersey Court of Appeal in Carl concluded that the two main causal experts of the complainants were based on epidemiological studies consistent with the Manual and the hill factors. The New Jersey Court of Appeals found that the plaintiffs’ experts applied methodologies generally accepted by experts in the field and reasonably relied on the underlying epidemiological data in formulating their opinions.

The New Jersey Court of Appeals held that the trial court went beyond its role of guardian by favoring the scientific methodologies of the defendants over the plaintiffs by improperly assessing the credibility of their opinions. The New Jersey Court of Appeals set aside the trial court’s exclusion of the plaintiffs ‘experts and, in turn, set aside the defendants’ summary judgment. As a result, the ruling allows the talc-based body powder litigation in several New Jersey countries to go to trial.

[1] Austin Bradford Hill, The environment and disease: association or cause? President’s speech, 58 Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine 295 (1965).


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