Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Judge Nealon Reviews Frye Expert Standard in FELA Case

In another FELA decision in the case of Dennis v. Delaware and Hudson Railway Co. Inc., No. 2005-CV-1826 (C.P. Feb. 12, 2013 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas addressed a Frye motion filed by the railroad Defendants to bar the opinion of the Plaintiff’s expert.  

As you may recall from prior posts, these consolidated cases involve former railroad workers seeking to recover damages under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C. §51-60, for black lung disease allegedly caused by occupational exposure to coal dust.  

In this particular matter, the Defendants filed a Frye motion asserting that the Plaintiffs’ pulmonary expert admitted under oath during his trial deposition that he did not observe the generally accepted methodology for diagnosing pneumoconiosis (black lung disease), such that the expert’s opinion should be deemed to be inadmissible under the standard set forth in the Frye decision.  

Judge Terrence R. Nealon
Lackawanna County
Judge Nealon granted the Defendant’s Motion after noting that, during his trial testimony, the Plaintiffs’ expert identified the generally accepted methodology for diagnosing black lung disease but acknowledged that he did not follow that methodology in formulating his opinions.  

The Court also noted that the expert’s opinions were not supported by any generally accepted diagnostic criteria. Accordingly, the testimony was ruled inadmissible under Frye and Pa. R.C.P.  207.1.   The Court therefore granted the Defendant’s Frye motion and ruled that the expert’s testimony was inadmissible.  

Judge Nealon’s opinion provides a thorough review of the standard set forth under Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923) for the evaluation of novel scientific evidence being offered by an expert.  

Anyone desiring a copy of this Opinion may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.  Given the number of decisions issued in this matter, please reference Dennis v. Delaware and Hudson Railway (Frye standard) when requesting this Opinion.

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