September 28, 2018 Practice Points

New Jersey Adopts “Daubert-Lite” Expert Witness Standard

The decision will have an immediate and significant impact in the products liability arena in New Jersey, which has long been a forum favorite of plaintiffs’ attorneys because of its relaxed evidentiary threshold standards

by Nick Panayotopoulos and Alan Holcomb

In a unanimous decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court, New Jersey has joined the states adopting a heightened standard for the admissibility of expert testimony. In re: Accutane Litigation, No. A-25-2017-079958 (N.J. Sup. Ct. August 1, 2018), https://law.justia.com/cases/new-jersey/supreme-court/2018/a-25-17.html addressed the admissibility of expert testimony proffered by a 2,000-member class that alleged a causal connection between use of the drug Accutane and the incidence of the chronic bowel illness Crohn’s disease. The proposed expert testimony was in direct conflict with a number of epidemiological studies finding no causal relationship between Accutane use and the development of Crohn’s disease.

In its decision, the court addressed three issues: 1) whether the trial court properly excluded plaintiffs’ experts’ testimony; 2) whether the correct standard was applied; and 3) whether New Jersey’s standard for assessing the reliability of expert testimony required clarification.

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