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Muzzey v. Kerr-McGee Chem. Corp.

ELR Citation: 26 ELR 21294
Nos. 93 C 3623, 921 F. Supp. 511/(N.D. Ill., 03/26/1996)

The court holds that three doctors' testimony that exposure to radiation from thorium tailings caused plaintiff to contract polycythemia vera (PV) is not admissible under Fed. R. Civ. P. 702. Applying Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 529, 23 ELR 20979 (1993), the court concludes that the experts' opinion that radiation can cause PV is not based on scientific knowledge, but is grounded on speculation shaped by result-oriented biases. Regarding Daubert's first factor, reliability, the court holds that it is clear that the proposition that radiation can cause PV, a blood disease, has not been empirically proven. The studies on which the experts rely do not constitute empirical proof that radiation can cause PV. Further, none of the experts has done any research on this theory outside the context of this lawsuit. The experts have also relied on untrustworthy data in reaching their conclusions. Finally, one expert's theory that DNA damagefrom radiation causes PV is not grounded in scientific knowledge. The court also holds that even assuming that the plaintiff could adequately prove that radiation is capable of causing PV, two of the doctors are not qualified to testify whether the plaintiff actually has PV. And although the third doctor has expertise in hematology, his opinion that plaintiff has PV is not supported by a scientifically reliable methodology and is not reliable to show that plaintiff has PV, rather than secondary erythrocytosis.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Patrick J. Kenneally
Law Offices of Patrick J. Kenneally
Two N. La Salle St., Ste. 1950, Chicago IL 60602
(312) 236-2522

Counsel for Defendants
Patrick G. Donnelly
Connelly & Schroeder
One N. Franklin St., Ste. 1200, Chicago IL 60606
(312) 251-9600