February 05, 2015 Articles

Failure to Extrapolate! Seventh Circuit Requires Experts Connect Data with Opinions

Matthew A. Moeller

A recent Seventh Circuit decision demonstrates the importance of experts being able to logically connect the dots between their opinions and the studies they relied on in forming those opinions. In C.W. ex rel. Wood v. Textron, Inc., 2015 WL 5023926 (7th Cir. Aug. 26, 2015), the parents of two children sought recovery for injuries allegedly caused by the children’s exposure to vinyl chloride. The substance allegedly escaped from a facility owned by Textron, seeped into the groundwater, and contaminated the plaintiffs’ well. While exposed, the children allegedly experienced gastrointestinal, immunological, and neurological symptoms, and these illnesses coincided with their exposure. Once the family moved away, the children’s health improved, but allegedly they remained at risk of future illness. The plaintiffs filed suit alleging negligence, negligence per se, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Damages were sought for both the children’s illnesses and a significantly increased risk of cancer and other negative health effects. Textron moved in limine to exclude the parents’ three expert witnesses. The district court granted the motion. Without the experts, the plaintiffs could not carry their burden on causation, requiring summary judgment.

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