Expert Witness Testimony Subject to Frye-Reed hearing

The Maryland Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals unanimous decision that a Frye-Reed hearing is necessary to determine the validity of expert witness testimony in the case of Josephine Chesson, et al. v. Montgomery Mutual Insurance Company. The plaintiffs, employees of Baltimore Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church in Columbia, claim they suffer a disease known as “sick building syndrome” because toxic mold was found behind a wall. “sick building syndrome” expert witness Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker testified on their behalf. stated that:

Defense counsel argued that a hearing should have taken place to determine if Shoemaker’s beliefs regarding sick building syndrome are widely accepted, a practice established in 1978’s Reed v. State decision and designed to determine the admissibility of an expert’s testimony. It interpreted a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from the 1920s.

Justice Irma Raker wrote. “We shall hold that the expert’s testimony should have been the subject of a Frye-Reed hearing.”