New England Institute of Technology
Case Studies in Criminal Forensics
Professor Michael Pezzullo
October 24, 2012
Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals
The 1993 Supreme Court case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, like many high-profile court cases, set a precedent for future court causes of a similar background. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals was a pharmaceutical company based out of Kansas City, Missouri which was founded in 1950. Originally named “Marion Laboratories” after its founder Ewing Marion Kauffman, Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals specifically developed pharmaceuticals that had yet to be marketed by other pharmaceutical companies after being discovered and researched. As a result, Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals are credited for producing several high-quality and extremely popular drugs even in modern day, including the Nicorette anti-smoking gum and Cepacol mouthwash. However, in an attempt to receive credit for popular and effective pharmaceutical production over other companies, Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals earned a reputation of producing drugs without sufficient research of potential side-effects. As a result, Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals were I involved in an extremely high-profile U.S. Supreme Court case, titled “Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals. This 1993 court case put pressure on the pharmaceutical company to close their doors and sell the company just three years later in 1996. Jason Daubert and Eric Schuller were both born in San Diego, California with visible physical defects. At birth, Daubert was missing three fingers on his right hand and was missing a bone in the lower part of his right arm. Schuller was born without a left hand and a leg which was shorter than the other. In 1993, Daubert and Schuller, along with their parents, elected to sue Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of the drug Bendectin, an anti-nausea medication both the boys’ mothers were prescribed and consumed during their pregnancies. Bendectin had been already removed from the market in 1983 after numerous claims that the medication had caused birth defects in children. Despite the claims that the drug had caused birth defects in a number of children, scientific research behind Bendectin showed no evidence that the drug is question produced birth defects in fetuses. The case was taken to a California state court, where it was ultimately moved to a Federal Court following a successful motion of diversity, ultimately meaning if a party in a case is established in a state differing from the state where the trial is being heard, the trial can be upgraded to a federal court. At the federal court trial, Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals presented an expert witness, Dr. Lamm, who provided his opinion tht Bendectin has no proven components that are consistent with causing birth defects in humans. Following the expert witness presentation, Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals filed a motion for summary judgment, stating that following their presentation of a certified expert witness that stated Bendectin does not have components which produce birth defects, there was no longer a necessity for continuation of the trial. Schuller and Daubert, however, submitted a total of eight expert witnesses of their own possessing various accreditation and credentials, stating that Bendectin indeed had the potential of causing birth defects in humans. The eight expert witnesses expressed their opinions based upon a scientific study regarding in-vitro and in-vivo techniques during animal studies. During the time in which the case was heard in 1993, in-vitro and in-vivo animal testing was not recognized as a legitimate methodology that had not yet been established as common practice within the scientific community. As a result, the expert witnesses presented by Schuller and Daubert were deemed inadmissible in court, and Merrell Dow Pharmaceutical’s motion for summary judgment...