Preventive Medicine Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Products Liability Litigation

Summary: Preventive Medicine Expert Witness allowed to provide testimony even though the defendant states that he was not qualified to offer an expert opinions on technical matters of cardiology.

Facts:  This case (Levitt v. Merck & Co., Inc. – U.S. District Court Western District of Missouri – May 28th, 2019) involves a claim against the defendant alleging that she suffered two heart attacks in 2001 as a result of taking the drug Vioxx.  In order to prove her claim, the plaintiff hired Preventive Medicine Expert Witness David Egilman, M.D.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  Dr. Egilman testified that Vioxx is a significant contributing cause of the plaintiff’s acute coronary syndrome.  He based his opinion on studies demonstrating a link between Vioxx and ACS and statistical analysis of the defendant’s data.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude this opinion as these studies concerned ACS in general and not its initial presentation as unstable angina.

The defendant wishes to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Egilman because they are based on unsound methodology, and he lacks the medical expertise to opine on technical matters of cardiology.  The defendant argues that Dr. Egilman’s study suggests that Vioxx is casually linked to a set of heart-related incidents that includes unstable angina  but does not directly prove that Vioxx causes unstable angina.

The plaintiff responds that Dr. Egilman is qualified to offer an expert opinion in this case because of his extensive training and experience.  In addition, the plaintiff notes that Dr. Egilman has testified in numerous courts on issues that are similar to those in this case.  Also, the plaintiff points out that because acute coronary syndrome includes unstable angina, Dr. Egilman should be allowed to use an analysis linking acute coronary syndrome to Vioxx as evidence that Vioxx was the cause of plaintiff’s injuries.

The court opines that, based on the record, Dr. Egilman’s testimony and opinions rest on solid grounds, are based upon what is known, and are supported by medical records and the plaintiff’s testimony.  The court also opines that Dr. Egilman’s opinions may assist the jury.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of David Egilman, M.D. is denied.