The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wm. R.Wilson, Jr. United States District Judge
MDL Docket No. 4:03CV1507-WRW
Pending is Defendant's Motion to Strike Expert Testimony Re: Legal Conclusions of Drs. Gueriguian and Sackett*fn1 (a trenchant memorandum, I note with pleasure). Plaintiff has responded.*fn2
Down through the years common law courts have struggled with "opinion" v. "fact" and "legal conclusions."*fn3 As a practicing lawyer I wrestled with these questions often (as an example, see Patterson v. State*fn4 ).
The following questions (posed to two of Plaintiff's experts) and answers have drawn vigorous objections from Defendant's counsel:
Plaintiff's Counsel to Dr. Gueriguian:
Q: Dr. Gueriguian, let me define some terms for you. I want you to assume at the end of this trial Judge Wilson will define the term "negligence" as follows: Negligence means failure to do something which a reasonably careful drug manufacturer would do or the doing of something which a reasonably careful drug manufacturer would not do under circumstances similar to those shown by the evidence in this case. Have you understood that definition as I have read it?
Q: Dr. Gueriguian, based on the thousands of documents that you reviewed in this case, the testimony that you reviewed in this case and based on your 30-plus years of training, education and experience as it relates to the drug industry, first, do you have an opinion based on that definition as I have read it? Do you have an opinion about whether Wyeth was negligent in this case?
Q: And what is your opinion?
A: That it was negligent.
Q: Let me read another definition to you. Assume with me, please, at the end of this case that Judge Wilson also defines negligence to read that a drug manufacturer has a duty to use ordinary care in its drug's design in order to protect those who will use the drug from unreasonable risk of harm while the drugs are being used for their intended purpose or any purpose which should reasonably be expected by the drug manufacturer. This duty to use ordinary care in design may include a duty to test or otherwise to discover risks which should influence the design of these drugs. Have you understood that definition as I have read it to you?
Q: Again, based on the thousands of pages of documentation that you have reviewed, based on the testimony that you have seen in this case and based on your 30-plus years of experience in this industry, first, do you have an opinion as to whether Wyeth's conduct was negligent as I have just defined it?