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Anderson v. ATMI Inc.

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

March 26, 2014

Aundre Michael Anderson by his Natural Mother and Next Friend, Cantana Anderson, and Cantana Anderson, Individually
v.
ATMI, Inc., Advanced Technology Materials, Inc.

Submitted: February 12, 2014

Ian C. Bifferato, Esq. David W. de Bruin, Esq. John Z. Haupt, Esq. Kevin G. Collins, Esq. Bifferato, LLC 800 N. King Street, 1st Fl. Wilmington, DE 19801

Robert J. Katzenstein, Esq. Smith, Katzenstein & Jenkins 800 Delaware Avenue Suite 1000 P.O. Box 410 Wilmington, DE 19899

Dear Counsel,

After consideration of Plaintiffs' Motion for Clarification, Reargument and Reconsideration Regarding the Order Granting Motion to Exclude Dr. Bearer and Dr. Frazier, Defendant's opposition thereto, and a review of the record, the Court concludes that it has not overlooked or misapprehended the experts' opinions, or the applicable principles or law, nor has it misunderstood the differences between this case and Tumlinson.[1] As noted by Defendant in its response, the fact that there are differences between the facts here and those in Tumlinson does not remedy or mitigate the flaws in the experts' methodology or analytical reasoning.

With regard to Mrs. Anderson's preeclampsia (a condition the Plaintiff in Tumlinson did not have), Defendant correctly notes that Drs. Bearer and Frazier's "attempts to connect up the chemical exposures and preeclampsia are … the kind of analytical 'gap' that prompted the Court to exclude their opinions." Moreover, the Court determined that Drs. Bearer and Frazier are unqualified to render expert opinions as to the cause of the preeclampsia.[2]

While Plaintiffs correctly note that Dr. Bearer was not the subject of preclusion in Tumlinson, she and Dr. Frazier issued a joint opinion, and at her deposition, Dr. Bearer stood behind all the opinions in that joint opinion. Thus, Dr. Bearer embraced and adopted the flawed methodology and analytical reasoning that resulted in the exclusion of Dr. Frazier's causation opinions in Tumlinson.

Although Tumlinson did not involve mercury, one of the three chemicals at issue here, Drs. Bearer and Frazier did not present a scientific study demonstrating that inorganic mercury exposure can cause the kind of injuries sustained by minor Plaintiff Aundre Anderson. As the Court noted in Tumlinson and in this case, Drs. Bearer and Frazier cite studies involving other chemicals and other injuries (not suffered by the minor plaintiff here), and "attempt to make it all 'fit' by invoking general ideas about oxidative stress."[3]

Drs. Bearer and Frazier opine that Defendant violated occupational health standards by exposing the minor plaintiff to mercury, IPA and acetone. This opinion is now irrelevant because as correctly noted by Defendant, "[i]f it cannot be proven by reliable admissible testimony that the Plaintiff's exposure to the specific chemicals caused the specific outcomes, then it does not matter whether the defendants may… have violated occupational health standards."[4]

The Court recognizes that the exclusion of Drs. Bearer's and Frazier's causation opinions was a huge blow to Plaintiffs, and the Court did not make that decision lightly. The Court assures Plaintiffs that neither complexity of the material nor time constraints caused the Court to disregard, overlook, ignore, or misapprehend relevant principles, case law, or facts. The Court, as gatekeeper, carefully scrutinized the expert opinions at issue and performed the analysis required under Daubert and its progeny and Tumlinson. Having done so, the Court finds the Plaintiffs' motion must be DENIED.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Very truly yours,

Jan R. Jurden Judge


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