Thursday, March 03, 2005

11th Circuit Excludes Causation Testimony in Metabolife Diet Supplement Case

The Eleventh Circuit has published an opinion reversing the district court's decision admitting the plaintiffs' causation testimony in a lawsuit that alleged a link between Metabolife 356 (an herbal appetite suppressant containing ephedrine and caffeine) and plaintiffs' injuries (stroke and heart attack). The district court had pronounced itself frankly unable to evaluate the methodologies employed by plaintiffs' experts, and admitted their testimony because defendants had offered no expert analysis to support its exclusion. The appellate panel held that this represented an impermissible abdication of the district court's gatekeeping function.

The panel didn't stop there, though. In a detailed review, it went on to hold as a matter of law that plaintiffs' experts did not offer reliable grounds to justify their opinions on general causation.

This defendant-friendly toxic tort opinion, which overturned a plaintiffs' verdict, is sure to find its way into the defense bar's string cites. See McClain v. Metabolife Int'l, Inc., No. 03-12776 (11th Cir. Mar. 2, 2005) (Anderson, Birch, & Royal, JJ.).


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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.