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July 13, 2007

Seventh Circuit Upholds Exclusion of Expert Evidence in Remicade Case

In Ervin v. J ohnson & Johnson, Inc. , 2007 WL 1966796 (7th Cir. July 9, 2007), the Seventh Circuit affirmed the trial court's grant of Johnson & Johnson's motion in limine to exclude testimony from the plaintiff's expert and motion for summary judgment in a products liability failure to warn case based on allegations that the defendant's prescription drug, Remicade, used in treating the plaintiff for Crohn's disease, caused a blood clot that required the partial amputation of his leg.  The plaintiff relied on a single expert, a physician, to establish causation.  The expert took the position in his deposition that "to a reasonable medical certainty" Remicade was the major contributing factor to the plaintiff's thrombotic arterial occlusion and a subsequent amputation of his leg below the knee.  He used the process of differential diagnosis in "ruling in" Remicade as a possible cause of the plaintiff's arterial thrombosis, relying on various factors, including "the temporal proximity between the drug infusion and the development of the clot and an Internet Google search that revealed one case report of an arterial clot following Remicade infusion," along with "a handful of 'line entries' from FDA printouts" containing basic information that did not include the patient histories, treatment descriptions, and analysis.  He acknowledged that those line entries did not account for other potential causes of the patients' problems and he did not rely any other source indicating an association of Remicade with increased risk of thrombosis.  That, along with other problems with the support on which the opinion was based, prompted the district court to conclude that the expert had no reliable basis for his opinion under Daubert. The lack of any epidemiological data supporting his opinion and his inability to articulate "any scientifically physiological explanation as to how Remicade would cause arterial thrombosis" did not establish a sufficient causal relationship between the use of Remicade and arterial thrombosis.  The mere existence of a temporal relationship between administration of the medication and the onset of symptoms was insufficient to establish a sufficient causal relationship.  The court of appeals held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the expert's testimony was unreliable.  Absent any other evidence on causation, the court of appeals held that the district court properly granted summary judgment to the defendant.

MKS

July 13, 2007 | Permalink

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