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Bonner v. ISP Technologies, Inc.

ELR Citation: 32 ELR 20008
Nos. No. 00-3458, 259 F.3d 924/(8th Cir., 08/03/2001)

The court affirms a district court decision upholding a jury verdict ordering the manufacturer of an organic cleaning solvent to pay an assembly line worker $2.2 million in damages for injuries she sustained after being sprayed with the product at her work. She alleged that the product caused her to suffer psychological problems, cognitive impairment, personality disorders, and Parkinsonian symptoms. The manufacturer argued that the district court erred in allowing one expert witness to testify that the worker's acute symptoms were caused by the manufacturer's product. The court first holds that the district court conducted a thoughtful and thorough inquiry as to the validity of the expert's conclusion, and there is nothing in the record to suggest that his conclusion was the result of methodology so unreliable as to render its admission an abuse of discretion. The court also holds that the district court did not err in permitting a second expert to testify that the product caused the worker's permanent injuries. The district court conducted an exacting review of the science involved and correctly concluded that, because the expert's methodology was scientifically valid, the scientific questions were best addressed by allowing each side to present its experts and submit their opinions to the jury. The court then holds that the district court properly dismissed the manufacturer's motion for a new trial based on its argument that the verdict was excessive. Under the circumstances of the case, an award of $2.2 million does not shock the conscience.

Counsel for Plaintiff
J. Michael Ponder
Thomasson, Gilbert, Cook & Maguire
715 Clark Ave., Cape Girardeau MO 63702
(573) 335-6651

Counsel for Defendant
Thomas A. Sheehan
Shook, Hardy & Bacon
1200 Main St., Kansas City MO 64105
(816) 474-6550

Wollman, J. Before Hansen and Barnes,1 JJ.

1. The Honorable Harry F. Barnes, United States District Judge for the Western District of Arkansas, sitting by designation.