Federal Court in Florida Excludes Plaintiffs’ Expert’s Junk Science


In yet another example of plaintiffs' experts' opinions and methodology in the asbestos litigation being found unreliable and inadmissible, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida (in the Dugas v. 3M) precluded Dr. William Longo's studies from trial. Dr. Longo, a frequent expert among the plaintiffs' bar in the asbestos litigation, conducted a videotaped work simulation that purported to replicate the working conditions experienced by the plaintiff and wrote two studies that he claimed were relevant to the case. The court, though, disagreed and found his studies and the work simulation to be wholly unreliable and inadmissible.

The first of Dr. Longo's studies purported to show that cleaning engine clamps using air pressure - as the plaintiff testified he had done - released airborne asbestos fibers. The Court was troubled that:

Dr. Longo's deviations in the study resulted in significant increases in the amount of asbestos released . . . combined with the fact that Dr. Longo still could not detect asbestos without modifying the only acceptable methods for occupational exposures to make the asbestos detectable.

While the Court noted it might "be inclined to leave some of Dr. Longo's questionable tactics for the jury to resolve," in the end it found "his opinion's underpinnings are unreliable" and could not be used at trial.

In a second study, plaintiffs attempted to introduce Dr. Longo's testing done on a sample of "dust taken from the engine bay of an abandoned airframe in the California desert" as an approximation of the levels of asbestos to which plaintiff might have been exposed many years prior. Even aside from "the obvious issues associated with using a dust sample from an abandoned airframe from the desert as representative of what Mr. Dugas cleaned fifty years ago," the Court found that "the biggest concern about Dr. Longo's surface sample comes from the mode of analysis itself." The Court went on to note that even setting aside the issue of unreliability, Dr. Longo deviated from the standard protocol for conducting dust testing, which called into question the procedure of the testing itself. The Court excluded Dr. Longo's dust sample results as wholly unreliable.

In addition, the Court precluded the plaintiff from submitting a video simulation that purported to replicate Mr. Dugas' working conditions. The Court found especially telling Dr. Longo's own concession that the video was not an accurate representation of the exposure that the plaintiff would have experienced. The Court precluded the use of the video at trial after seeing the video for what it really was - junk science.

The Dugas case shows that challenges must be made to plaintiffs' experts' "scientific" studies and tests. Governo Law Firm has consistently pushed these very issues in asbestos cases for decades. To learn more about how Governo Law Firm works to mitigate the potential harm created by junk science submitted by plaintiffs' attorneys, please contact David Governo ([email protected]) or Matthew Ilacqua ([email protected]).