Occupational/Environmental Health Expert Witness Allowed

Plaintiff sued defendants for exposure to asbestos during his years of working with automobile parts.  The plaintiff hired an occupational/environmental health expert witness to assist in the case.  The defendants filed a motion to exclude, which was denied by the court.

Facts:  This case (HOFFEDITZ et al v. AM GENERAL, LLC et al – United States District Court – District Court of New Jersey – August 4th, 2017) involves a claim of asbestos exposure.  Starting from 1968, Gerald Hoffeditz repaired transmissions, brake parts, and gaskets on military trucks.  These materials allegedly contained asbestos.  He may have been exposed to asbestos earlier than that because he performed maintenance on his personal cars, including some vehicles manufactured by Ford.  Mr. Hoffeditz passed away in 2o08 after he filed suit.  His wife is now a named party as executrix of his estate.  Hoffeditz hired Dr. Jacqueline Moline (occupational/environmental health expert witness) to provide expert testimony in this case.  The Defendants filed a motion to exclude this testimony.

Discussion:  The defendants first argue that Dr. Moline is not qualified to testify as an expert in this case.  The court disagreed, stating that Dr. Moline has extensive qualifications in the field of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (obtaining degrees from the University of Chicago and a residency at Yale University among many others), has studied extensively in the field of asbestos, and has worked with hundreds of mesothelioma patients.  Thus, the court ruled, she is qualified to offer expert witness opinions in this case.

In addition, the court ruled that Dr. Moline’s testimony was reliable and that it would assist the trier of fact.  Dr. Moline utilized a variety of methodologies to come to her conclusions in determining whether exposure to a chemical compound has would cause a particular disease. Dr. Moline assessed four questions and consulted a variety of publications and factual evidence of Mr. Hoffeditz’s exposure to the Defendants products and his medical history.

The Defendants assert that Dr Moline relied on an “each and every breath” theory of causation, which has been ruled impermissible under Pennsylvania law.  The court ruled that Dr. Moline did not rely on an “each and every breath” theory.  She instead considered Mr. Hoffeditz’s specific exposure to the products and the work he did with those products.

The Defendants have also pointed to specific studies or reports that they believe Dr. Moline has improperly relied on, she provided competent criticisms of these studies.  The court ruled that any contradictions and arguments in this realm would be best addressed during the trial.

Last, the Defendants argue that Dr. Moline’s opinion should not be admitted because she did not quantify the exposure from each Defendant’s products.  The court ruled that they failed to explain why this is indicative of a lack of reliability or fit.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony Dr. Jacqueline Moline is denied.