Deborah Harris filed suit against CSX Transportation, Inc. asserting that her deceased husband's work on the railroad, and particularly his exposure to diesel exhaust, caused his development of multiple myeloma and ultimate death. CSX moved to exclude Mrs. Harris' expert witnesses, asserting that they did not follow a proper methodology and "good science" in concluding that her husband's multiple myeloma was caused by his diesel exhaust exposure. The trial court granted CSX's motion concluding that the plaintiff's experts' opinions were not reliable under the applicable case law, excluded Mrs. Harris' experts, and dismissed the case. Hartley & O'Brien appealed the trial court rulings to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.
The West Virginia Supreme Court just handed down its opinion in Harris v. CSX on November 13, 2103, in which the Court held that the circuit court committed error in excluding the scientific testimony of Plaintiff/Petitioner's three expert witnesses. The Court's analysis is important in that it specifically defines the standards that circuit court judges must apply when conducting
Daubert hearings, and the limited purpose for such hearings. Importantly, the Court was clear that once an expert's methodology is considered reliable, the matter may properly go to a jury. The Court noted that CSX's experts used the same methodologies as those used by the petitioner's experts, and emphasized that choosing between competing conclusions "is a matter for jury determination." The Court rejected a handful of cases from other jurisdictions that "excluded expert testimony on the issue of whether multiple myeloma is caused by diesel exhaust," finding that line of cases "inconsistent with the standards of admissibility of scientific expert testimony that are followed in this jurisdiction."
At Hartley & O'Brien, we understand that complex legal issues sometimes involve long, difficult fights. We're willing to see your case through, as long as it takes, even when that means taking it all the way to the Supreme Court. Harris v. CSX Transportation, Inc., No. 12-1135, (W.Va. November 13, 2013) (slip op.).