Toxicology Expert Issues in Trucking Cases

1. United States District Court, D. Kansas. Tammy Fanning  v. Sitton Motor Lines, Inc. and James F. Duke, Defendant. Case No. 08CV2464 CM/DJW 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116809, 2010 WL 4261476 (D. Kan. 2010).
The Plaintiff/Decedent was struck and killed while walking in or near the roadway. The Plaintiff, Fanning, moved to strike the expert testimonies of toxicologist, Dr. Michael Corbett and psychiatrist, Dr. Rosalyn Innis, who opined that Fanning’s death was a suicide caused by a drug withdrawal. Plaintiff’s motions were denied in part and granted in part, both experts were precluded from testifying that Fanning’s mental condition ultimately lead to his death.
2. United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit. Julio Elvin Ruiz-Troche, et al. v. Pepsi Cola of Puerto Rico Bottling Company, et al.. Case No. 98-1163.  161 F. 3d 77, (1st Cir. 1998).
Trial judge excluded the Defendant’s expert pharmacologist, James O’Donnell, from testifying. He opined to the amount of cocaine present in the decedent/driver’s body at the time of the accident, and subsequently, how this would impair the driver. O’Donnell used a methodology called “half-life” to determine the amount of cocaine in the decedent’s body at the time of the accident. This methodology was an accepted technique and had scientific literature to support it. Despite O’Donnell’s sound methodology, the Trial judge precluded it on the basis that it lacked scientific liability. This also limited testimony as to how the cocaine would have impacted the decedent’s driving ability and led to crash. The Defendants appealed the decision and Appellate judge found that the trial court had abused its discretion in excluding the testimony of O’Donnell, subsequently reversing judgment in the favor of the Defendants.
For additional information on toxicology, check a past blog post about synthetic drugs. If there is anything we can do to assist you in the defense of one of the most essential industries, trucking, in America, please call me. 
Even if you only have a question about an expert, I will be be glad to consult with you initially at no charge.

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