Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Brandon Pond New England Institute of Technology Case Studies in Criminal Forensics CJ 372. 57 Professor Michael Pezzullo October 24, 2012 Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals The 1993 Supreme Court case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, like many high-profile court cases, set a precedent for future court causes of a similar background. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals was a pharmaceutical company based out of Kansas City, Missouri which was founded in 1950.
Originally named “Marion Laboratories” after its founder Ewing Marion Kauffman, Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals specifically developed pharmaceuticals that had yet to be marketed by other pharmaceutical companies after being discovered and researched. As a result, Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals are credited for producing several high-quality and extremely popular drugs even in modern day, including the Nicorette anti-smoking gum and Cepacol mouthwash.
However, in an attempt to receive credit for popular and effective pharmaceutical production over other companies, Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals earned a reputation of producing drugs without sufficient research of potential side-effects. As a result, Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals were I involved in an extremely high-profile U. S. Supreme Court case, titled “Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals. This 1993 court case put pressure on the pharmaceutical company to close their doors and sell the company just three years later in 1996. Jason Daubert and Eric Schuller were both born in San Diego, California with visible physical defects.
At birth, Daubert was missing three fingers on his right hand and was missing a bone in the lower part of his right arm. Schuller was born without a left hand and a leg which was shorter than the other. In 1993, Daubert and Schuller, along with their parents, elected to sue Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of the drug Bendectin, an anti-nausea medication both the boys’ mothers were prescribed and consumed during their pregnancies. Bendectin had been already removed from the market in 1983 after numerous claims that the medication ad caused birth defects in children. Despite the claims that the drug had caused birth defects in a number of children, scientific research behind Bendectin showed no evidence that the drug is question produced birth defects in fetuses. The case was taken to a California state court, where it was ultimately moved to a Federal Court following a successful motion of diversity, ultimately meaning if a party in a case is established in a state differing from the state where the trial is being heard, the trial can be upgraded to a federal court.
At the federal court trial, Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals presented an expert witness, Dr. Lamm, who provided his opinion tht Bendectin has no proven components that are consistent with causing birth defects in humans. Following the expert witness presentation, Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals filed a motion for summary judgment, stating that following their presentation of a certified expert witness that stated Bendectin does not have components which produce birth defects, there was no longer a necessity for continuation of the trial.
Schuller and Daubert, however, submitted a total of eight expert witnesses of their own possessing various accreditation and credentials, stating that Bendectin indeed had the potential of causing birth defects in humans. The eight expert witnesses expressed their opinions based upon a scientific study regarding in-vitro and in-vivo techniques during animal studies. During the time in which the case was heard in 1993, in-vitro and in-vivo animal testing was not recognized as a legitimate methodology that had not yet been established as common practice within the scientific community.
As a result, the expert witnesses presented by Schuller and Daubert were deemed inadmissible in court, and Merrell Dow Pharmaceutical’s motion for summary judgment was approved at the district court level. Daubert then appealed their case to the appellate court at the 9th circuit court of appeals, re-introducing their expert witnesses’ opinion that Bendectin indeed can cause birth defects, backing their opinions with in-vitro and in-vivo research. The 9th circuit court determined that the district court had correctly approved Merrell Dow Pharmaceutical’s motion for summary judgement, using the 1923 U. S.
Supreme Court Case Frye v. United States as their basis for their decision. Frye v. Unites States dealt with the inadmissibility of a blood-pressure lie-detection method into court proceedings because it had not yet become “generally accepted” as a reliable scientific practice. In addition, the 9th circuit stated that it was the court’s opinion that the evidence in which Daubert and Schuller were presenting was designated for litigation, and without their presentation of expert witnesses, Daubert and Schuller had no sufficient evidence to prove that the Bendectin drug indeed can cause birth defects in humans.
The 9th circuit court upheld the U. S. district court’s decision, but filed a motion of certiorari to the U. S. Supreme Court, anticipating the higher court to review their decision on the case, a motion the U. S. Supreme Court ultimately agreed to hear. At the U. S. Supreme Court, the court determined that “general acceptance” is not a justified precondition of the admission of scientific evidence into court. According to the Federal Rules of Evidence, there is no requirement that specifically stated that scientific evidence has to have a “general acceptance” in order to be admissible into court.
In particular, Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence states that the judge during the trial has the discretion to determine whether or not an expert witnesses’ testimony is based upon a “reliable foundation” and is “relevant to the task at hand”. The Supreme Court also determined that any evidence with “scientifically valid principles” will be sufficient to fulfill the two aforementioned requirements. Ultimately, the U. S. Supreme Court overturned the decision of the 9th circuit court of appeals, and eliminated Frye v.
United States from judicial review practices during determination of evidence admissibility. After having the case reintroduced into the lower court, the lower court again sided with Merrell Row Pharmaceuticals, determining that there was no sufficient evidence that the use of in-vitro and in-vivo research methods fulfilled the task-relevancy and reliable foundation requirements. Despite the ruling, the Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, currently known as the Daubert Test, has fully replaced the Frye Test in all evidence admissibility review cases.
Overall, the Daubert v. Merrell Row Pharmaceuticals case has played an overwhelmingly significant role in modern day Criminal Justice and the way court proceedings are carried out. This case is responsible for single-handedly changing the landscape in which evidence is analyzed for admissibility. Prior to this case, evidence admissibility was based around a U. S. Supreme Court case that was decided way back in 1923, 70 years prior to the Daubert case. The Frye Test had simply lost its base in modern day Criminal Justice, and the Daubert Test rovides justices within a court setting to have the overall determination of whether evidence fulfills two simple requirements. As more and more cases are presented into criminal courts, and more technological advances are produced, statutes, laws, and precedents need to change to accommodate for the new technology. In this instance, the Frye Test surrounded a blood-pressure style lie-detection test, technology that was so advanced and profound that it hadn’t even been considered an accepted scientific practice.
In modern day, there are even more advanced forms of lie-detection software that individuals involved in the Frye v. United States case could not even imagine. There is no question that there needs to be some sort of decisive test to determine what types of evidence should be admitted into court proceedings, and what types of evidence should be excluded. Not all evidence can be included, because there would be no way of determining the credibility of the evidence being introduced into court.
It would simply not be fair to a defendant at trial to be incriminated using evidence that isn’t proven to be sufficient, and would not otherwise pass some sort of evidence admissibility test. By using the Daubdert admissibility test, however, it provides judges leading a trial proceeding to have the overall determination of whether or not evidence fulfills the Daubert Test. The Daubert Test states that evidence must both have “scientifically valid principles” and must be “relevant to the task at hand”.
This may sound like a productive test for all evidence. I agree that the Daubert Test is indeed a good test, though only to some degree. One of the justices that heard the Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals case at the U. S. Supreme Court level admitted that while he understood his ability to have the overall determination of all evidence admissibility in the case, the magnitude of scientific advancements involved in the case was certainly out of his expertise, as well as the other justices within the U. S. Supreme Court.
I do not feel it is right to put evidence admissibility into the hands of justices whom have a expertise in legal practices and the judicial system, rather than bimolecular engineering, pharmaceuticals, or any other scientific field. However, with that said, I do feel that the Daubert Test is certainly a step in the right direction. I firmly believe that the Daubert Test will uphold until another case similar to the Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals case will force new improvements into the standards of evidence admissibility. Works Cited Angier, Natalie. Two Pre-decision Articles on the Daubert Case (rules forscientific evidence). ” Free Legal Information & Forms | The ‘Lectric Law Library. The New York Times, 2 Jan. 1993. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. ;http://www. lectlaw. com/files/lit03. htm;. Annas, George. “Legal Issues in Medicine. ” Scientific Evidence in the Courtroom — The Death of the Frye Rule. Version 330. Georgetown University, 7 Apr. 1994. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. <www. daubertexpert. com/basics_daubert-v-merrell-dow. html>. BRODY, JANE E.. “SHADOW OF DOUBT WIPES OUT BENDECTIN – NYTimes. com. The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. The New York Times, 19 June 1983. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. <http://www. nytimes. com/1983/06/19/weekinreview/shadow-of-doubt-wipes-out-bendectin. html>. “Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U. S. 579 (1993).. ” LII | LII / Legal Information Institute. N. p. , n. d. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. <http://www. law. cornell. edu/supct/html/92-102. ZS. html>. Mahle, Stephen. “An Introduction to Daubert v. Merrell Dow. ” DaubertExpert. com. N. p. , n. d. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. <http://www. daubertexpert. com/basics_daubert-v-merrell-dow. html>.