Response to Judge Kathleen O’Malley’s decision on the defendants’ Parkinson’s disease-related Daubert motion:
Posted August 8, 2005
This decision does not alter the landscape for welding fume lawsuits -- it simply maintains the status quo. It means the welding defendants will need to continue to demonstrate the scientific facts directly to juries, something we have thus far been extremely successful at doing. In fact, although the plaintiffs have used the evidence and arguments the defendants were seeking to preclude with this motion at the previous trials, the juries rejected plaintiffs’ allegations in nine of the ten cases. We are confident that when jurors in the MDL trials are presented with all the existing science on this issue, they will join the overwhelming majority of state court juries who have already heard and rejected these claims.
Importantly, the Court has not found that exposure to welding fumes is a cause of Parkinson’s disease. Rather, this is a technical determination that, in most cases, a jury (not the court) will continue to decide these science and causation issues.
In fact, the only way this decision changes the playing field is that this Judge, for the first time in any courtroom, has indicated that defendants may obtain dismissal of some cases without having to go to trial where the Court is confide nt, based on a plaintiff’s symptoms and diagnosis, that he or she has Parkinson’s disease rather than another neurological disorder. This important language from the first page of the Judge’s order is really the only change in the status quo:
"[T]he Court may still grant a defense motion for judgment as a matter of law in a particular case if the Court is convinced that, given the precise constellation of symptoms and test results presented by an individual plaintiff, there is no reliable medical or scientific evidence upon which to base a conclusion that the plaintiff's actual condition was, more probably than not, caused by exposure to manganese in welding fume."
The fact remains that there is no valid or reliable science linking welding fumes or manganese to Parkinson’s disease. The existing science supports the defendants’ position. In May, the largest epidemiological cohort study ever done on this issue, entitled “A Cohort Study of Parkinson’s Disease and Other Neurodegenerative Disorders in Danish Welders,” was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The results of this study, involving approximately 9800 welders located in Denmark, show that welders are not at an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease or other similar movement disorders.
In sum, the welding defendants will continue to defend themselves vigorously against these meritless cases and are confident that they will ultimately prevail.
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