(Source New Jersey Law Journal)

Plaintiffs appealed from the judgement of the trial court, which granted defendants’ motion for summary judgement following the trial courts grant of defendants’ motion to exclude the opinions of the plaintiffs’ two principle causation experts. Plaintiffs had filed the presents products liability action alleging that their use of defendants’ talc-based powder products had caused plaintiffs to develop ovarian cancer and that defendants’ had concealed the increased risk of ovarian cancer that use of their product caused.

Defendants had moved to exclude plaintiffs’ causation experts’ opinions. The trial court granted the motion, citing as a basis for granting motion “the narrowness and shallowness of [their] scientific inquiry and the evidence upon which they rely” and finding that the experts’ “areas of scientific inquiry, reasoning, and methodology are slanted away from objective science and towards advocacy”

On plaintiffs appeal from the grant of defendants’ motion to exclude plaintiffs’ experts’ opinions and from the grant of summary judgement to defendants, the court reversed the trial courts rulings, concluding that the trial court had erred in excluding plaintiffs’ causation experts’ opinions. The court ruled that the trial court had improperly based its decision to exclude the opinions on the merits of those witnesses’ opinions, which the trial court had disagreed with, rather than the soundness of he data and methodology used by the experts. The court noted that the trial court had also improperly relied upon defendants’ expert opinions as proof that plaintiffs’ experts had used unsound data and methodology.

The court therefore concluded that the trial court had failed to act as a gatekeeper of expert evidence and instead had “substitu[ed] his or her judgement for that of ‘the relevant scientific community” The court concluded that plaintiffs’ experts’ opinions were based on sound methodology using data that was typically relied upon by other members of plaintiffs’ experts’ field. The court further found that plaintiffs’ experts’ opinions raised genuine issues of material fact that precluded the entry of summary judgement.

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