Product liability and personal injury litigation often require complex scientific data to assess the validity of plaintiff claims. In most states, the admissibility of evidence and expert testimony is governed by the Daubert Standard, which makes the presiding judge the final authority in deciding what evidence a jury is permitted to consider.
Yet, a nationwide poll conducted by Echelon Insights for the Center for Truth in Science found that two-thirds of Americans believe judges and jury members are not qualified to determine the validity of the scientific research results and expert testimony presented during a trial.
The same poll found that 79 percent of Americans believe independent scientists appointed by a judge would be the most qualified to determine the validity of scientific claims as they relate to potential awards in mass tort cases. Respondents were most comfortable with scientists who are not being paid for their testimony in lawsuits about products.
The logic makes sense: The soundness of any scientific claim should be determined by scientists. Judges can appoint a panel of qualified scientists to determine the validity of claims before they are allowed to be introduced as evidence in tort lawsuits. However, the approach is frequently dismissed by judges as an infringement on the jury’s responsibility to determine liability and their own authority to determine the admissibility of evidence.