Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Ninth Circuit Endorses Differential Diagnosis

The Ninth Circuit issued a decision today giving its imprimatur to differential diagnosis as a technique for assessing disease causation. The facts of the case involved the effects of an oil spill on the oyster population, but the ruling is sure to affect toxic tort litigation in other contexts as well. See Clausen v. M/V New Carissa, No. 01-35298 (9th Cir. Aug. 12, 2003) (O'Scannlain, Fernandez & Fisher, JJ.). Update: A more detailed summary of the Clausen opinion is now available here.
Fed. R. Evid. 702: If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.