Expert Witness Scientific Evidence on Mesothelioma Ruled Admissable

On January 30, 2007, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that plaintiffs’ epidemiology expert witness Dr. Richard Allen Lemen presented scientifically reliable, and therefore legally admissible, evidence drawing a causal connection between mesothelioma and inhalation of brake-lining dust. Chapin v. A&L Parts, et al., 2007 Mich. App. LEXIS 156. The disagreement between defendants’ occupational health expert witness Dr. Michael Goodman was on the causal connection. The court ruled:

The fact that two scientists value the available research differently and ascribe different significance to that research does not necessarily make either of their conclusions unreliable. Indeed, science is, at its heart, itself an ongoing search for truth, with new discoveries occurring daily, and with regular disagreements between even the most respected members of any given field. A Daubert-type hearing of this kind is not a judicial search for truth. The courts are unlikely to be capable of achieving a degree of scientific knowledge that scientists cannot….The inquiry is not into whether an expert’s opinion is necessarily correct or universally accepted. The inquiry is into whether the opinion is rationally derived from a sound foundation.

In the dissent, Judge O’Connell found that plaintiff’s expert witness and defendants’ expert testified that no less than 15 epidemiological studies have been conducted to determine if there is an empirically verifiable correlation between brake grinding and mesothelioma, none of these studies established a causal connection Therefore, under Daubert, Dr. Lemen’s testimony should be inadmissible.