One Expert Disallowed and Two Experts Allowed in Part in Products Liability Case

Plaintiff sued Defendant for products liability for foam insulation that was installed in the their home.  They hired three experts and the defendants filed motions to exclude their testimony.

Facts:  This case (Monica and Richard Beyer v. Anchor Insulation Co. – United States District Court – District of Connecticut – February 17th, 2017) involves a products liability claim against the defendant (Anchor) related to the installation of spray polyurethane foam insulation (SPF) in the home of the Plaintiffs (Beyers).  The Beyers claim that the SPF used to insulate their home caused numerous medical issues.  In order to prove their case, the Beyers hires three expert witnesses:  Dr. Yuh-Chin Huang (pulmonary medicine expert witness), Mr. Gary Cude, and Dr. David Nicewicz  (both chemistry expert witnesses).  Anchor has filed a motion to exclude the testimony of these expert witnesses.

Discussion: Dr. Huang offered three opinions:  1) That the Beyer;s physical symptoms results in their exposure to SPF compunds; 2) That the Beyer’s symptoms are consistent with and most likely related to their exposure to SPF compounds; and 3) The Beyer’s likely had sensitivities because they were exposed to these compounds.

The court granted the defendant’s motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Huang.  The only literature that Dr. Huang points to support his opinion is his own article.  In addition, he did not perform any scientific experiments to support his hypotheses and he had not examined the Beyers.  The court determined that Dr. Huang’s article is a case report and not a scientific study needed to be allowable under Daubert.  In addition, Dr. Huang’s use of the phrase “likely association” also does not satisfy inclusion under Daubert.  Also, if Dr. Huang were allowed to provide his opinion on general causation, his opinion is not enough to show specific causation.

Dr. Cude was hired to testify that the SPF was defective because it mixed the A side from one company with the B side from another company.  In addition, he was to testify that the SPF was sprayed off-ratio and too quickly, did not conform to industry standards, and did not provide the required warnings.  Anchor argues that Mr. Cude’s report parrots those of a non testifying witness, Mr. Bernard Bloom and did not apply his own judgment.  The court opined that Mr. Cude’s opinions can be divided into five segments and rules on each.  The court ruled that Mr. Cude will be allowed to testify on the likely mis-installation of the foam as well as the results of the air sampling that he performed.  He is, however, not allowed to testify about specific remediation measures as well as industry safety standards and whether or not Anchor conformed to those standards.  Last, Mr. Cude is not qualified to opine as to whether the SPF caused the Beyer’s medical symptoms.

Dr. Nicewicz testimony is broken up into “topics” and “opinions”.  The court opined that the “topics” are within his range of expertise, but the “opinions” are not.  Dr. Nicewicz will not be allowed to provide testimony on medical causation or on the Beyer’s experience, which not observed by him.

Conclusion:  The motions to exclude the testimonies of Dr. Gary Cude and Dr. David Nicewicz was denied in part and granted in part.  The motion to exclude the testimony of Dr. Yuh-Chin Huang was granted