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Goeb v. Tharaldson

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20101
Nos. No. CX-98-2275, 615 N.W.2d 800/(Minn., 08/17/2000)

The court holds that the standard for admissibility of novel scientific evidence set forth in Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923), and State v. Mack, 292 N.W.2d 764 (Minn. 1980), rather than the standard set forth in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 23 ELR 20979 (1993), remains the controlling standard in Minnesota. The court, therefore, upheld a district court decision excluding a married couple's expert testimony as unreliable in their case against a pesticide manufacturer. The couple alleged that they were injured after they moved into a home sprayed with the manufacturer's product.

The court first holds that it will adhere to the Frye-Mack standard and reject the Daubert standard. The Frye-Mack standard, which requires novel scientific evidence to be both generally accepted and reliable, ensures that the persons most qualified to assess scientific validity of a technique have the determinative voice. Moreover, the standard is compatible with the state and federal rules of evidence. Further, the Frye-Mack standard is more apt to ensure objective and uniform rulings as toparticular scientific methods or techniques. Applying the standard to the instant case, the court then holds that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the methodologies used by the couple's experts were unreliable. The expert testimony, therefore, was properly excluded, and summary judgment was properly granted to the pesticide manufacturer on the issue of medical causation. The court additionally holds that the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act preempts the couple's failure-to-warn and inadequate labeling claims against the manufacturer, but not their claims of negligent misrepresentation and negligent testing.

Counsel for Petitioners
Matthew A. Slaven
Collins, Buckley, Sauntry & Haugh
332 Minnesota St., St. Paul MN 55101
(651) 227-0611

Counsel for Respondent
Nicholas Ostapenko
Johnson, Killen & Seiler
230 W. Superior St., Duluth MN 55802
(218) 722-6331