TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Thursday, March 7, 2013

McGarity & Shapiro on Scientific Evidence in Courts and Agencies

Thomas McGarity (Texas) & Sidney Shapiro (Wake Forest) have posted to SSRN Regulatory Science in Rulemaking and Tort:  Unifying the Weight of the Evidence Approach.  The abstract provides:

This article explores how a regulatory agency decides whether scientific evidence is sufficient to meet a risk trigger – the evidentiary burden that is a prerequisite to regulating a toxic substance, and how a court decides whether there is sufficient evidence to allow a jury to consider the issue of general causation in a toxic tort case. We argue both agencies and courts should apply a weight of the evidence approach because there is no meaningful distinction between the regulatory and tort contexts concerning these issues. The courts, however, have tended to use a corpuscular approach in which scientific evidence is evaluated study by study, rather than evaluating the totality of the evidence, which is the methodology of regulatory agencies. Given the nature of available scientific evidence, a corpuscular approach turns Daubert into a policy decision against compensating people who become ill from exposure to toxic chemicals.


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