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Another Nail in the Coffin for the Thimerosal-Autism thesis

On Friday Maryland's highest court, confirming its intermediate appellate court, made it more difficult for plaintiffs to qualify as expert witnesses in future vaccine cases -- this is yet another thimerosal suit against Wyeth.

Jamarr Blackwell is both autistic and mentally retarded. His parents sued, claiming that his disabilities were caused by thimerosal-containing vaccines administered when he was a baby. They had FIVE expert witnesses to support their theory of causation.

Wyeth's attorneys responded that the causal connection between thimerosal and autism is not generally accepted by the scientific community, and that the Blackwells' experts were not qualified to testify under Maryland's version of the "Frye rule." Maryland's High Court held that although Dr. Geier, the Blackwells' expert in epidemiology, may have used data collected in generally accepted ways, the "analytical gap" between the data and the experts' conclusion on causation was too great to justify the results. The Court, moreover, concluded that neither Dr. Geier's methods nor his theory of causation were generally accepted in the relative scientific community. Finally, the court found that none of the experts had sufficient "knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, primarily in the field of epidemiology, to proffer reliable expert testimony on matters of complex and novel scientific inquiry...." This should prove to be a powerful precedent in the many states still using the Frye rule.

Here's the link to the AmLaw Daily summary of the ruling.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.