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In re In re Paoli R.R. Yard PCB Litig.

Citation: 19 ELR 20265
No. No. 86-2229, 706 F. Supp. 358/(E.D. Pa., 11/29/1988)

The court holds that plaintiffs suing to recover damages for personal injuries allegedly resulting from exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have failed to submit sufficient evidence that their injuries, if any, were caused by the PCBs. Plaintiffs live near, or work at, a railroad yard contaminated by PCBs. The court first holds that the testimony of various of plaintiffs' expert witnesses is inadmissable. The court rules that Federal Rule of Evidence 703 permits courts to examine the basis of an expert's opinion, and that animal studies, which may be appropriately used in the regulatory context, are not a proper basis for concluding that a particular chemical caused a specific disease in a particular person. The court holds that testimony from plaintiffs' experts will not be helpful to the factfinder and may be more prejudicial than probative, since plaintiffs' experts rely heavily on animal studies and other improper data, the experts' qualifications are in some cases suspect, and their conclusions are contrary to existing human epidemiological research and studies prepared by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. The court also holds that plaintiffs have failed to put forth adequate evidence that they had greater exposure to PCBs than the general population. The court holds that plaintiffs have not shown that they suffer any present injury, and under Pennsylvania law they cannot recover for fear of future harm in the absence of present physical harm. Finally, the court holds that plaintiffs' experts, whose testimony is inadmissable, have not shown a causal link between any harm experienced by plaintiffs and defendants' PCBs.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Arnold E. Cohen, Charlotte Thomas
Klehr, Harrison, Harvey, Branzburg, Ellers & Weir
1401 Walnut St., Philadelphia PA 19102
(215) 568-6060

Harold E. Kohn, Joseph C. Kohn
Kohn, Savett, Klein & Graf
Ste. 2400, 1101 Market St., Philadelphia PA 19107
(215) 238-1700

D. Bruce Hanes
Friedman & Hanes
100 N. 17th St., 8th Fl., Philadelphia PA 19103
(215) 972-8200

Counsel for Defendants
Roger F. Cox, Jerry Richter, Benjamin D. Stonelake
Blank, Rome, Comisky & McCauley
1200 Four Penn Center Plaza, Philadelphia PA 19103
(215) 569-5500

Michael H. Malin
White & Williams
17th Fl., 1234 Market St., Philadelphia PA 19107
(215) 854-7000