In my talk on the panel today, I mistakenly said that Judge Fallon of the MDL ruled that Dr. Thomas Baldwin could testify as to specific causation. Though Judge Fallon made the initial ruling permitting Baldwin to testify in contravention of Daubert, two weeks later, he later agreed with Merck that Baldwin's testimony as to specific causation violated Daubert and should be excluded.
I regret the error about the specific ruling on the specific expert. I stand by the larger point that Judge Fallon and the trial judges in the two Texas trials committed reversible error in permitting expert testimony in violation of Daubert and the Texas analogue to Daubert.
It's another setback for vaccines-cause-autism campaigners, as the court (applying Maryland's Frye-Reed standard, as opposed to Daubert) excludes a team of experts led by the controversial Dr. Mark Geier. Kathleen Seidel has details; see also AutismDiva @ Autism Speaks. Earlier here, here, etc.
P.S. Oh, well, at least the campaigners still have Donald Trump and the Huffington Post on their side.
Daubert strikes again, as a Texas federal judge throws out a test video relied on by the plaintiffs' expert in a case against Ford. Of the video, produced by an accident reconstructionist and styled as a "sanity test" of rear sensors intended to prevent collisions with children while backing up, the judge commented (PDF, via Hutchinson): “It wasn’t at all the quality experiment that I would expect” and “to say I wasn’t impressed is an understatement”; it “is, in my estimate, an embarrassment to the scientific community.” A Fifth Circuit panel has upheld the exclusion.
In Marsh v. Valyou, the Florida Supreme Court (1)reiterated that Florida follows the Frye general acceptance test; (2) held that Frye doesn't apply to a medical expert's "opinion" testimony regarding causation; (3) held that even if Frye did apply, it should be applied only to the issue of whether the technique of "differential diagnosis" is generally accepted in the medical community, regardless of whether the technique was used in a generally accepted way; and (4) implicitly rejected the notion that Florida Rule of Evidence 702, modeled on the federal rule that led to the Daubert Supreme Court opinion, provides a "backup" reliability test for causation testimony.
Continue reading Florida Supreme Court Welcomes Junk Science
Plaintiff's lawyers are trying to get the Georgia courts to strike down as inconsistent with the state constitution the legislature's 2005 enactment of rules mandating court gatekeeping of scientific evidence along the lines of the U.S. Supreme Court's Daubert decision. The Fulton County Daily Record has details.
Two weeks ago in this space, Ted flagged Adam Liptak's Times coverage of Mississippi-based pulmonologist Jay T. Segarra, whose testimony has come under challenge in a big Philadelphia asbestos proceeding. Wrote Liptak, "According to the records of the Claims Resolution Management Corporation, which oversees asbestos claims, he participated in almost 40,000 positive diagnoses for asbestos-related illnesses over the last 13 years, or about eight per day, every day, including weekends and holidays. There were about 200 days on which Dr. Segarra rendered positive diagnoses for more than 20 people, and 14 days with more than 50." Now the Chamber-backed Southeast Texas Record reports that Segarra was "used heavily as an expert throughout the late 1990s by Reaud [Wayne Reaud of Reaud, Morgan & Quinn], Provost Umphrey, Brent Coon and other plaintiffs' firms in Jefferson and Orange counties." A related editorial is here.
Adam Liptak's latest Sidebar column reviews the case of an asbestos plaintiffs' lawyers' doctor who should know better, as he testified in the Judge Jack silicosis proceedings. I have uploaded the motion to exclude Dr. Segarra's testimony.
This one's in the New England Journal of Medicine, and, like others, fails to support an association between vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders. Orac comments, as does Paul Howard at our sister site Medical Progress Today.
A federal judge acts as Daubert gatekeeper in a case seeking to blame a boy's autism on a saline nasal mist that contained 0.00025% thimerosal as a preservative. "Ultimately, Judge [Phyllis] Hamilton (N.D. Calif.] excluded the testimony of all of the experts put forward by the plaintiffs; granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants; and dismissed the case on its merits." (Redfoot v. B.F. Ascher & Company et al.) Kathleen Seidel, who's done so much to cover this issue, has an extensive report.
Those who follow the Daubert/scientific evidence wars will want to catch the back-and-forth between Beck and Herrmann and Peter Nordberg on the question of whether expert witnesses should be required to testify to a "reasonable degree of professional certainty" as to their conclusions. The exchange begins here, when Beck and Herrmann take note of a surprising ALI restatement proposal that would water the standard down to "more likely than not"; continues with Peter Nordberg's detailed response of last month criticizing the "reasonable degree of certainty" threshold; and has now proceeded to an also-detailed rebuttal from Beck and Herrmann, concluding that watering down the old formula would do much to increase the quantity of expert testimony but would be rather perilous as to its quality.