Plaintiff sued defendant after allegedly being exposed to mold in her residence. Plaintiff hired an Allergies & Immunology Expert Witness to provide expert witness testimony. Defendant filed a motion to exclude this testimony, which was granted by the court.
Facts: This case (Carter v. Southstar Management, LLC – United States District Court – Southern District of Texas – October 24th, 2018) involves a claim of mold exposure. The plaintiff alleges that she suffered personal injury and property damage due to mold exposure in the residence owned and operated by the defendants. The plaintiff had a pre-existing asthmatic condition. After the plaintiff was hospitalized for asthma and other respiratory issues, her son discovered mold at the residence. Because of the mold, the plaintiff is suing the the defendants for negligence, gross negligence, and claims under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The plaintiff hired Allergies & Immunology Expert Witness Brian Tison, M.D. The defendants has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.
Discussion: The defendants argue that Tison’s testimony is not reliable to satisfy the causation elements of the plaintiff’s toxic tort claims. The defendants argue that Tison cannot prove causation because Tison cannot prove what substance Carter was exposed to. The defendants argue that Tison should be able to prove that Carter was exposed to a level of mold adequate enough to cause any adverse health effects. In addition, the defendants allege that the theory that indoor mold growth can lead to significant toxicity in residents of moldy buildings has been controversial in the scientific literature.
The plaintiff does not argue that Tison can testify as to general causation, but opines that the court does not need to undertake an extensive analysis on the general toxicity question when the medical community already recognizes that the agent causes the type of harm a plaintiff alleges.
Tison, in this report, concluded that plaintiff’s shortness of breath and pneumonia were more likely than not associated with her mold exposure. In order to establish causation, Tison used a differential diagnosis and worked to eliminate other possible triggers. He then relied on the mold report performed by the defendant’s son, which showed mold in her apartment. However, the report does not provide the mold level that the defendant was exposed to which allegedly caused her illness.
The court opines that in his deposition, Tison stated that there was no consensus in the medical community about the health effects of exposure to mold. In addition, he stated that he did not review any studies or any medical literature in order to be able to provide his opinions in this case. The court further opines that Tison’s deposition and report show that he cannot demonstrate general or specific causation in this case.
Conclusion: The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Brian Tison, M.D. is granted.