Occupational Medicine Expert Witness Testimony Not Allowed in Deepwater Horizon Litigation

Summary: Occupational Medicine Expert Witness testimony not allowed even though the expert argued that there is a lack of data related to the oil spill.

Facts:  This case (Coleman v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc. et al – United States District Court – Eastern District of Louisiana – June 28th, 2022) involves a personal injury claim arising out of exposure to toxic chemicals after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  The plaintiff, Steve Coleman, alleges that his exposure to carcinogenic compounds has resulted in numerous conditions, including light sensitivity, chronic eye sensitivity, and blurred vision.  In order to assist with his case, the plaintiff has hired Occupational Medicine Expert Witness Dr. Jerald Cook to provide expert witness testimony.  The defendant, BP Exploration & Production has filed a motion to exclude Dr. Cook’s expert witness testimony into evidence.

Discussion:   The defendant maintains that Dr. Cook’s expert witness testimony is not able to prove causation and that his testimony is unreliable and irrelevant. It argues that Dr. Cooke’s testimony is unreliable, and thus, not sufficient for general causation, as it does not identify any harmful levels of exposure to a certain chemical. The court opines that Dr. Cook’s report does not show what level of exposure is needed to create the adverse effects that he looked into. The court also states that Dr. Cook does not point to a harmful dose of any chemicals which the plaintiff was allegedly in contact with. The court thus declares that Dr. Cook does not have enough facts on the composition of the materials at issue in this case to render a reliable expert opinion on causation.

The court also notes that Dr. Cook’s expert witness report is not helpful to the trier of fact.  The court states this because Dr. Cook did not link a specific chemical to which Coleman was allegedly exposed to, what level he was exposed to, and to the conditions that are put forth in the complaint.   The court goes on to say that Dr. Cook does not identify which chemicals the plaintiff was exposed to.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Jerald Cook is granted.