Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Superior Court Reaffirms Frye Standard for Expert Testimony in Two Recent Decisions

The Frye standard of review of novel expert testimony was reaffirmed by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in the following two recent decisions.


Snizavich v. Rohm and Haas Co., 2013 Pa.Super. 315, No. 1383 - EDA - 2012 (Pa.Super. Dec. 6, 2010 Lazarus, Colville, J.J.)(Opinion by Lazarus).
In a December 6, 2013 decision, the Pennsylvania Superior Court reaffirmed the standard in the context of a Plaintiff's expert medical witness on causation in the brain cancer case of Snizavich v. Rohm and Haas Co., 2013 Pa.Super. 315, No. 1383 - EDA - 2012 (Pa.Super. Dec. 6, 2010 Lazarus, Colville, J.J.)(Opinion by Lazarus).

The Superior Court affirmed the trial court's granting of the Defendant's Frye motion for the preclusion of the Plaintiff's expert. The appellate court noted that where an expert, even a medical doctor, offers an opinion that does not rely upon scientific authority, the opinion amounts to no more than a personal belief or lay opinion of the expert that should not be allowed.

Since the precluded expert testimony was from the only expert on causation offered by the Plaintiff, the court also affirmed the entry of judgment in favor of the defense.

Anyone wishing to review this Opinion may click this LINK.


Jacoby v. Rite Aid Corporation, No. 1508 - EDA - 2012 (Pa.Super. Dec. 9, 2013 Lazarus, Colville, J.J.)(Opinion by Lazarus).

In its December 9, 2013 "Non-precedential" Opinion issued in the case of Jacoby v. Rite Aid Corporation, No. 1508 - EDA - 2012 (Pa.Super. Dec. 9, 2013 Lazarus, Colville, J.J.)(Opinion by Lazarus), the court reaffirmed the application of the Frye standard in Pennsylvania state courts for the admissibility of novel expert testimony in the context of a products liability case.

More specifically, Jacoby involved a claim by the plaintiff of the zinc-induced copper deficiency causing an illness/injury through the use of a dental adhesive product.

The court applied the Frye standard and provided a thorough analysis of the required review by a trial court of the methodology used by experts to reach conclusions on matters involving novel scientific evidence.

In the end, the Superior Court in Jacoby affirmed and found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in holding that the Plaintiff's experts lacked a sound foundation from which to extrapolate a conclusion that the denture cream at issue caused the Plaintiff's neurological injury.

Anyone wishing to review this unpublished and Non-precedential Opinion by the Superior Court may click this LINK.


I send thanks to Attorney Kenneth T. Newman of the Pittsburgh, PA office of Thomas, Thomas & Hafer for bringing these cases to my attention.
 

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