Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Army Joe Leake, Ii v. United States of America

December 29, 2011

ARMY JOE LEAKE, II, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Goldberg, J.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

In March of 2008, Plaintiff, Army Joe Leake, II, suffered acute liver failure which necessitated an immediate liver transplant. Plaintiff alleges that this illness was the result of his work as a painter on a naval cargo ship and has sued Defendant, the United States of America, under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. § 30104, and maritime law.

Presently before the Court are Defendant's Motions to Exclude the Reports and Testimony of Plaintiff's causation experts, Dr. Jeffery A. Handler, Dr. Kay Washington and Dr. Rudy Rai. Because we conclude that these experts have failed to offer reliable opinions that will assist the trier of fact regarding the cause of Plaintiff's injury, Defendant's motions will be granted. Further, as the exclusion of this evidence precludes Plaintiff from establishing causation, we also grant Defendant's motions for summary judgment as to each of Plaintiff's claims.

I. Factual Background

Unless otherwise indicated, the following facts are undisputed.

Plaintiff worked aboard the United States Naval Ship GILLILAND as an Able Bodied Seaman, intermittently, from 2005 until March 1, 2008. From at least November 19, 2007 to December 16, 2007, and thereafter from January 8, 2008 to February 29, 2008, Plaintiff worked overtime chipping and painting the cargo hold of the ship. During the last week of February 2008, Plaintiff also spent three hours painting the laundry room and four days painting a stairwell on the ship. (Def.'s State. Facts, Doc. No. 29, Ex. 1, ¶¶ 1-4; Pl.'s Resp. State. Facts, Doc. No. 32, Ex. 4, ¶¶ 1-4.)

On March 3, 2008, Plaintiff began feeling ill, and on March 5, 2008, he was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with acute liver failure. Plaintiff underwent a liver transplant on March 10, 2008. Although the transplant was successful, Plaintiff alleges that he has suffered several physical and mental complications. (Def.'s State. Facts, Doc. No. 29, Ex. 1, ¶¶ 8-13; Pl.'s Resp. State. Facts, Doc. No. 34, Ex. 4, ¶¶ 8-13; Compl. ¶ 13.)

Plaintiff contends that his exposure to chemicals in the paints and thinners he used aboard the ship caused his liver failure.*fn1 Plaintiff attempts to establish causation for his injuries through experts, Drs. Jeffrey A. Handler, Kay Washington and Rudy Rai. In summary, Drs. Handler and Washington identified three chemical compounds found in the paints and thinners that could cause liver damage: methyl n-amyl ketone ("MAK"), n-butanol and psuedocumene. Dr. Handler opined that Plaintiff's exposure to MAK resulted in an immune-based reaction that resulted in liver failure. Handler further concluded that Plaintiff's exposure to n-butanol and psuedocumene resulted in liver damage in the "the remaining liver cells." Dr. Washington also opined that MAK was capable of causing the immune-based reaction responsible for Plaintiff's liver failure, but concluded, more generally, that "toxic exposure to organic compounds present in the paint fumes" caused his injury. Similarly, Dr. Rai opined that Plaintiff "developed liver failure from his exposure to known hepatotoxins that were inhaled in high concentrations in enclosed spaces over a period of time." (Def.'s State. Facts, Doc. No. 29, Ex. 1, ¶ 16; Pl.'s Resp. State. Facts, Doc. No. 34, Ex. 4, ¶ 16; Handler Rpt. at 3-5; Washington Rpt. at 2-4; Rai Rpt. at 3.)

II. Legal Analysis

A. Federal Rule of Evidence 702

Federal Rule of Evidence 702 governs the admissibility of expert testimony, and states:

If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if

(1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.

Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993). The current version of Rule 702 "embodies a trilogy of restrictions on expert testimony: qualification, reliability and fit." Schneider v. Fried, 320 F.3d 396, 404 (3d Cir. 2003). In evaluating whether an expert opinion is admissible, the district court acts as ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.