Methods two experts used to detect asbestos in talcum powder were not scientifically rigorous enough to allow those experts to testify in court, a Pennsylvania judge has ruled in a case that attorneys have said is likely the first of its kind in the Keystone State.
Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Idee Fox late last month agreed with the defendants in Brandt v. The Bon-Ton Stores that the plaintiffs’ pathology expert, Dr. Ronald Gordon, and their geology and microscopy expert, Sean Fitzgerald, used experimental, and in one case “inherently unscientific,” methods when testing for the presence of asbestos in the talcum powder at issue. Fox determined that both experts did not pass muster under the Frye test, and granted the defendants motions to preclude their testimony.
“This court finds that the methodologies employed by both Mr. Fitzgerald and Dr. Gordon are not generally accepted in the relevant scientific community,” Fox said. “Although each employed some generally accepted methodologies, each modified, varied or deviated from those generally accepted methodologies.”
Brandt is being handled in Philadelphia’s asbestos program, and stems from claims that talcum powder plaintiff Sally Brandt used between 1954 and 1970 contained asbestos, which caused her to develop mesothelioma.
Although not as eye-catching as the verdicts against Johnson & Johnson in talc-related ovarian cancer cases, over the past few years plaintiffs with talc-related mesothelioma claims have won significant verdicts.
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