MDL No. 2187
THIS DOCUMENT RELATES TO C. R. BARD WAVE 4 & WAVE 5 CASES
BEFORE JUDGE GOODWIN: MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
(Daubert Motion re: Michael T. Margolis, M.D.)
Pending in In re C. R. Bard, Inc., 2:10-md-2187, MDL 2187, is C. R. Bard, Inc. ("Bard")'s Daubert motion to Exclude or Limit Certain General Opinions and Testimony of Michael T. Margolis, M.D. [ECF No. 4577]. The motion is now ripe for consideration because the briefing is complete. As set forth below, Bard's motion is GRANTED.
This case resides in one of seven MDLs assigned to me by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation concerning the use of transvaginal surgical mesh to treat pelvic organ prolapse ("POP") and stress urinary incontinence ("SUI"). In the seven MDLs, there are more than 16,000 cases currently pending, approximately 1,500 of which are in the Bard MDL, 2187 MDL..
In this MDL, the court's tasks include "resolv[ing] pretrial issues in a timely and expeditious manner" and "resolv[ing] important evidentiary disputes." Barbara J. Rothstein & Catherine R. Borden, Fed. Judicial Ctr., Managing Multidistrict Litigation in Products Liability Cases 3 (2011). In an effort to manage the massive Bard MDL efficiently and effectively, the court decided to conduct pretrial discovery and motions practice on an individualized basis. To this end, I selected certain cases to become part of a "wave" of cases to be prepared for trial and, if necessary, remanded.
Upon the creation of a wave, a docket control order subjects each case in the wave to the same scheduling deadlines, rules regarding motion practice, and limitations on discovery. See, e.g., Pretrial Order ("PTO") # 236 (establishing Wave 4); PTO # 244 (establishing Wave 5). To handle motions to exclude or to limit expert testimony pursuant to Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), the court developed a specific procedure for cases designated in Wave 4 and Wave 5. The court instructed the parties to file briefing on general causation issues in the main MDL, MDL 2187, while specific causation Daubert motions, responses, and replies were to be filed in the individual member cases. To the extent that an expert is both a general and specific causation expert, the court advised the parties that they could file a general causation motion in the main MDL and a specific causation motion in an individual member case. See PTO # 236, at 4; PTO # 244, at 4.
II. Legal Standard
Under Federal Rule of Evidence 702, expert testimony is admissible if it will "help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue" and (1) is "based upon sufficient facts or data" and (2) is "the product of reliable principles and methods" which (3) has been reliably applied "to the facts of the case." Fed. R. Evid. 702. A two-part test governs the admissibility of expert testimony. The evidence is admitted if it "rests on a reliable foundation and is relevant." Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., 509 U.S. 579, 597 (1993). The proponent of expert testimony does not have the burden to "prove" anything. However, he or she must "come forward with evidence from which the court can determine that the proffered testimony is properly admissible." Md. Cas. Co. v. Therm-O-Disc, Inc., 137 F.3d 780, 783 (4th Cir. 1998).
The district court is the gatekeeper. It is an important role: "[E]xpert witnesses have the potential to be both powerful and quite misleading"; the court must "ensure that any and all scientific testimony . . . is not only relevant, but reliable." Cooper v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., 259 F.3d 194, 199 (4th Cir. 2001) (citing Daubert, 509 U.S. at 588, 595; Westberry v. Gislaved Gummi AB, 178 F.3d 257, 261 (4th Cir. 1999)). I "need not determine that the proffered expert testimony is irrefutable or certainly correct" - "[a]s with all other admissible evidence, expert testimony is subject to testing by '[v]igorous cross-examination, presentation of contrary evidence, and careful instruction on the burden of proof.'" United States v. Moreland, 437 F.3d 424, 431 (4th Cir. 2006) (alteration in original) (quoting Daubert, 509 U.S. at 596 (alteration in original)); see also Md. Cas. Co., 137 F.3d at 783 ("All Daubert demands is that the trial judge make a 'preliminary assessment' of whether the proffered testimony is both reliable . . . and helpful.").
Daubert mentions specific factors to guide the overall relevance and reliability determinations that apply to all expert evidence. They include (1) whether the particular scientific theory "can be (and has been) tested"; (2) whether the theory "has been subjected to peer review and publication"; (3) the "known or potential rate of error"; (4) the "existence and maintenance of standards controlling the technique's operation"; and (5) whether the technique has achieved "general acceptance" in the relevant scientific or expert community. United States v. Crisp, 324 F.3d 261, 266 (4th Cir. 2003) (quoting Daubert, 509 U.S. at 593-94).
Despite these factors, "[t]he inquiry to be undertaken by the district court is 'a flexible one' focusing on the 'principles and methodology' employed by the expert, not on the conclusions reached." Westberry, 178 F.3d at 261 (quoting Daubert, 509 U.S. at 594-95); see also Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 150 (1999) ("We agree with the Solicitor General that '[t]he factors identified in Daubert may or may not be pertinent in assessing reliability, depending on the nature of the issue, the expert's particular expertise, and the subject of his testimony.'" (citation omitted)); see also Crisp, 324 F.3d at 266 (noting "that testing of reliability should be flexible and that Daubert's five factors neither necessarily nor exclusively apply to every expert").
With respect to relevancy, Daubert also explains:
Expert testimony which does not relate to any issue in the case is not relevant and, ergo, non-helpful. The consideration has been aptly described by Judge Becker as one of "fit." "Fit" is not always obvious, and scientific validity for one purpose is not necessarily scientific validity for other, unrelated purposes. . . . Rule 702's "helpfulness"
standard requires a valid scientific connection to the pertinent inquiry as a precondition to admissibility.
Daubert, 509 U.S. at 591-92 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). At bottom, the court has broad discretion to determine whether expert testimony should be admitted or excluded. Cooper, 259 F.3d at 200.
Neither party disputes that the plaintiffs designated Dr. Margolis solely as a specific causation expert. See Pls.' Resp. in Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. to Exclude or Limit Certain General Opp'ns & Test. of Dr. Michael T. Margolis, M.D., at 1, 10 [ECF No. 4635]. Pursuant to PTO # 236 and PTO # 244, because the plaintiffs disclosed Dr. Margolis as a specific causation expert only, he may not offer general causation testimony. Therefore, to the extent Bard seeks to exclude the general causation opinions of Dr. Margolis, the motion is GRANTED. As it relates to the specific causation opinions of Dr. Margolis, the court will address such challenges in the appropriate case-specific context.
For the reasons stated above, the court ORDERS that Bard's Daubert Motion to Exclude or Limit Certain General Opinions and Testimony of Michael T. Margolis, M.D. [ECF No. 4577] is GRANTED.
The court DIRECTS the Clerk to file a copy of this Memorandum Opinion and Order in 2:10-md-2187, and the Bard Wave 4 and Wave 5 cases identified in the Exhibit attached hereto. The court further DIRECTS the Clerk to send a copy of this Order to counsel of record and any unrepresented party.
ENTER: September 4, 2018
JOSEPH R. GOODWIN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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Kitchen v. C. R. Bard, Inc. et al.
McManus v. C. R. Bard, Inc. et al.
McCray v. C. R. Bard, Inc. et al.
Barber v. C. R. Bard, Inc. et al.
Smith et al. v. C. R. Bard, Inc. et al.
Eiffler v. Sofradim Production SAS et al.
See Lankston v. Ethicon, Inc. et al., No. 2:12-cv-0075, 2017 WL 8727998, at *2 (S.D. W. Va. Jan. 12, 2017) (excluding Dr. Wheeler's general causation opinions because he "was disclosed only as a specific causation expert.").