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Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
43 F.3d 1311 (9th Cir. 1995)


Facts

Daubert (plaintiff) was born with birth defects to his limbs. He brought suit against Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals (Merrell) (defendant), alleging that his mother’s taking its product, Bendectin, while pregnant caused the defects. Scientists generally did not know how limb defects come about. Daubert brought forth the testimony of scientific experts who had concluded that Bendectin could cause birth defects. The experts did not purport to prove causation directly, but rather by circumstantial evidence. To show the reliability of those circumstantial scientific conclusions, the experts gave their personal assurances that their methods were reliable, but nothing more. However, the consensus in the field was that Bendectin in fact does not cause defects. In fact, the FDA stated that “available data do not demonstrate an association between birth defects and Bendectin.” The district court granted Merrell’s motion for summary judgment and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed. The United States Supreme Court reversed and remanded, outlining a new standard for admissibility of expert evidence that required courts to take into account a number of factors, including, but not limited to the following: (1) the testability of the theory/methodology, (2) whether the theory has been published and subject to peer review, (3) any potential rate of error and (4) whether the knowledge has reached general acceptance in the field.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Kozinski, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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