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Separating the Scientist's Wheat From the Charlatan's Chaff: Daubert's Role in Toxic Tort Litigation

June 1998

Citation: ELR 10293

Author: Christopher H. Buckley Jr. and Charles H. Haake

Editors' Summary: In the wake of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., it has become increasingly important for the judicial system to discern the reliability of scientific evidence offered by experts in toxic tort cases. In this Article, the authors offer practical guidance on the application of the rule established in Daubert to toxic tort litigation. From the general acceptance test established in Frye v. United States to the refinements of the Daubert test outlined in the recently decided General Electric Co. v. Joiner case, the authors trace the evolution of the rule governing the admissibility of scientific evidence. They then examine the application of the Daubert rule to toxic tort cases by evaluating the various types of scientific evidence that can be used to prove causation. Last, they analyze the application of the Daubert rule in cases where a plaintiff has alleged development of a multiple chemical sensitivity.

Mr. Buckley is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of the law firmof Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, and he chairs the firm's Environment and Natural Resources Practice Group. Mr. Haake is an associate in the firm's Irvine, California, office, and he also is a member of the firm's Environment and Natural Resources Practice Group.

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