Court Keeps Out Plaintiff’s Expert Testimony in Birth Injury Case against Car Manufacturer

Earlier this month, an appellate court in New York affirmed a lower court’s opinion keeping out a plaintiff’s expert’s testimony in a product liability lawsuit filed against BMW. In the case, Sean R. v. BMW, the plaintiff was a minor child who was born with severe disabilities allegedly caused by his in utero exposure to gasoline vapor in his mother’s BMW vehicle. Ultimately, the case was dismissed because the plaintiff’s expert witnesses were prevented from testifying because their opinions did not rely on “generally accepted methodologies.”

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff’s family bought a BMW 525i back in 1989. The car was primarily used by the plaintiff’s mother to run local errands. Two years later, the plaintiff’s mother noticed a smell of gasoline that “came and went.” It was at this time she became pregnant with the plaintiff. She continued to use the car despite the smell.

After getting the car looked at twice by a mechanic, it was discovered that the smell was caused by a split fuel line that resulted in fuel being spilled into the engine compartment. The plaintiff’s mother drove the car about 6,500 miles before the car was repaired. Two years later, BMW initiated a recall for all 525i models, due to defective fuel lines.

The plaintiff, now a 16-year-old boy, was born with severe birth defects, including cerebral palsy, developmental delays, ventricular asymmetry, delayed myelination, microcephaly, aortic stenosis, malformed bicuspid valve, tracheomalacia, and impaired sight. He filed a lawsuit against BMW, alleging that his in utero exposure to the gasoline fumes caused his birth defects.

At Trial

At trial, the plaintiff presented two experts to testify about causation. Specifically, they would testify that the plaintiff’s in utero exposure to the gasoline vapors was what caused his birth defects. However, BMW challenged the experts’ testimony, arguing that they relied on novel theories that had not yet been generally accepted by the scientific community. The trial court agreed and kept the experts’ testimony out of trial. The plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the court agreed with the lower court. The appellate court noted that there had not been any scholarly publication cited by the experts in support of their conclusions. As a result, the court held that the experts’ testimony was properly kept out of trial, and the case was properly dismissed.

Have You Been Injured by a Dangerous Vehicle?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured due to a defective product, such as a malfunctioning system inside a vehicle, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Keep in mind, however, that as the above case makes clear, these cases often rely on scientific evidence to prove required elements, and a failure to submit adequate proof will likely result in the early dismissal of your case. To ensure that your case is properly handled from beginning to end, call one of the dedicated Maryland personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers at 410-654-3600 today.

More Blog Posts:

Determining Fault in Maryland Multi-Vehicle Accidents, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published February 2, 2016.

Accident Victim’s Signed Release Encompasses At-Fault Driver and Subsequent Allegedly Negligent Physician, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published February 16, 2016.

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