Toxic word The US Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendant in a toxic tort claim. The plaintiffs blamed the glue manufacturer for neurological and psychological problems that the plaintiff experienced after exposure to the company’s adhesive. Discovery lasted for over three years with the district court finding that the evidence presented by the plaintiffs would not permit a reasonable jury to find that MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate ) caused the ailments.

Plaintiffs identified only one expert witness, a specialist in the language of warnings. She did not testify on causation, stating that is outside her fields of expertise. While the plaintiffs added evaluations from six physicians, the court found that these “merely summarized plaintiff’s symptoms, rather than discussing causation.”  In addition, both courts stated that while the six treating physicians added their information to the report by the declared expert witness, the court found that “attaching the report of a fact witness, such as a treating physician, to an expert’s report does not turn the fact witness into an expert witness..”

Toxic tort expert witnesses are engaged in cases that arise from harm caused by exposure to dangerous substances. These experts assist attorneys with the elements that must be proven in toxic tort cases, which typically include (1) the substance was dangerous; (2) the plaintiff was exposed to the substance, and (3) the substance caused his or her harm. The plaintiffs did not hire a toxic tort expert witness to plead their case. Omitting this critical component from their litigation team proved to be a mistake. The district court stated that a toxic tort claim under Indiana law depends on expert proof of causation and that the plaintiff had not produced any expert evidence on that score. The appeals court affirmed.