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“Recent Judicial Decisions on Specific Causation,” Product Liability Law and Strategy…

September 2010

Lori Leskin, Partner in the Product Liability group, authored the article “Recent Judicial Decisions on Specific Causation” in the September 2010 issue of LJN’s Product Liability Law and Strategy. It is, of course, black letter law that to prove a claim, a plaintiff in a product liability suit must establish that the product at issue caused the injury suffered by the plaintiff. Causation includes both general and specific; absent a showing of both types of causation, a plaintiff’s claims necessarily fail. Plaintiffs have often assumed that if they could overcome the general causation barrier, they could easily create an issue of fact on the issue of specific causation. Recently, however, courts are giving more critical attention to the issue of specific causation, and, with increasing frequency, are excluding unreliable specific causation opinions. This article highlights three recent court decisions — two involving Viagra® and one involving Seroquel® — rejecting plaintiff’s efforts at establishing specific causation as a matter of law. These decisions confirm that speculative specific causation evidence is inadmissible, and underscore the importance of closely questioning the plaintiffs’ specific causation evidence.

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