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From Products Liability Law Daily, November 10, 2014

Baby formula maker’s challenge to appellate court standard for “Daubert” rulings denied

By Pamela C. Maloney, J.D.

A baby formula maker’s petition for review of a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit which held that a Minnesota district court abused its discretion in excluding the testimony of experts testifying for the guardian ad litem of an infant who developed a bacterial infection which resulted in brain damage allegedly as a result of ingesting the formula has been denied by the U.S. Supreme Court (Mead Johnson & Co., LLC v. Johnson, Docket No. 14-365, cert. denied November 10, 2014).

Background. In support of the products liability action against the manufacturer, the infant’s guardian ad litem presented testimony by three experts to prove that the infant’s C. sak infection was caused by ingestion of the baby formula. The trial court excluded the experts because their testimony did not sufficiently “rule out” other possible causes of the C. sakcontamination. On appeal, the Eighth Circuit (sub nom. Johnson v. Mead Johnson & Co., LLC.) reversed that decision, finding that the district court violated the liberal admission standards of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), and Rule 702 by resolving doubts in favor of keeping the experts’ testimony out and relying upon its own assessment of the correctness of the expert opinions. By doing so, the appellate court said, the trial court disallowed the adversarial process to work.

Mead Johnson had presented two questions for High Court consideration: (1) Did Rule 702 so liberalize federal law on the admission of expert opinion testimony that appellate courts must rigorously scrutinize district court orders excluding such testimony, resolving all doubts in favor of reversal? and (2) Is a district court required, when exercising its Daubertgatekeeper role, to admit expert causation testimony when the expert has failed to use reliable methodology, reliably applied, to rule out any alternative causes for plaintiff’s injuries?

The case is Docket No. 14-365.

Companies: Mead Johnson & Co., LLC

MainStory: TopStory SupremeCourtNews BabyProductsNews ExpertEvidenceNews

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