SW Legal studies in Business

Expert Testimony Must Be Based on Scientific Data or Principles
Description Appeals court affirmed the dismissal of a suit against the makers of Viagra by users who contended that their heart attacks were cause by the drug. Since there was no clinical evidence of such causation, expert testimony on the causation must be based on accepted principles. Lacking that, the evidence is excluded and the case fails.
Topic Court Procedure
Key Words Evidence; Expert Testimony; Scientific Principles; Viagra
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Three plaintiffs sued Pfizer contending that their heart attacks were caused by the use of the prescription drug Viagra. Plaintiffs offered expert testimony that Viagra could cause heart attacks. The trial court accepted Pfizer's motion to not allow the testimony and dismissed the suits. Plaintiffs appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. "Expert testimony purportedly based on scientific principles or procedures is only admissible after the principle or procedure has gained general acceptance in its specified field." In the absence of any clinical data supporting the theory that there is a link between Viagra and heart attacks, the experts would have to set forth accepted principles of why there may be such a causal link. No such evidence was presented to bolster the assertions made by the expert witnesses, so their testimony, upon which the entire case rested, must be excluded.

Citation Selig v. Pfizer, Inc., 735 N.Y.S.2d 549 (App. Div., N.Y., 2002)

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