Roundup, talc cases force question: What if juries get the science wrong?
Northern California Record | By Daniel Fisher
While Daubert can be a powerful tool for eliminating misleading testimony from the courtroom – and J&J hopes it can crush the ovarian cancer cases by eliminating plaintiff witnesses from the MDL – it doesn’t solve the underlying problem of having non-scientists decide scientific questions, Cheng said.
“Why would you ever hand this off to people who have no idea of what the science is?” said Cheng, who will explore alternative methods of handling science in the courts in a forthcoming article. “It’s a crazy way to handle the situation.”
Most other countries do it differently. First of all, only in the U.S. are civil litigants constitutionally guaranteed a trial by jury. Jury trials are exceedingly rare in civil lawsuits in the U.K. In the rest of Europe judges typically decide under statutes spelling out the duties of manufacturer defendants. Instead of serving as gatekeepers, judges in those countries select the experts they believe will best help them understand the science.
In U.S. courts, jurors are usually subjected to a “battle of the experts,” in which lawyers tried to undercut the credibility of opposing experts on cross-examination. In reality, science usually takes a secondary role behind incriminating e-mails and other documents suggesting the defendant company was trying to hide the truth, whatever that is, or failed to prove its products were safe even though it’s the plaintiff’s burden to prove they are unsafe.