By: Allan M. Siegel
Thirteen cases went up on appeal, all of which involve plaintiffs against
cell phone manufactures and service providers alleging that long-term
exposure to cell-phone radiation causes brain tumors. The appeal asked
the Appellate Court to decide what test the DC Superior Courts should
apply to the admissibility of expert testimony. Expert testimony was essential
to these cases - the plaintiffs had put on 8 experts and defendants 4,
along with 280 exhibits.
In the past, DC Courts had applied what is known as the ‘Frye / Dyas’
test to decide whether to admit expert testimony. The essential question
of this test in determining admissibility was whether the expert or scientific
testimony proffered was generally accepted in the relevant professional
The DC Court of Appeals changed this test with this recent decision, and
it will affect every case where expert testimony is required. The Court
decided that DC Courts will now apply the Federal Rules of Evidence Rule
702 to the admission of expert testimony. This transition means that
DC Judges will now have greater discretion in excluding expert testimony
under a reliability standard. This new Rule applies to any trial that begins after the date of the
opinion, October 20, 2016, including the cell phone cancer cases. The
cell phone cases were sent back to DC Superior Court to apply the new rule.
Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, & Siegel, P.C.’s experienced attorneys
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