On December 8, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit unanimously affirmed the lower court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Bayer Pharmaceuticals in multidistrict litigation asserting products liability claims related to Bayer’s Mirena birth control device. In 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted Bayer’s motion to exclude all seven of the plaintiffs’ general causation experts pursuant to Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and subsequently awarded summary judgment, holding that without expert witnesses, the plaintiffs had insufficient evidence to establish general causation. Plaintiffs appealed to the Second Circuit, arguing that the district court abused its discretion by (1) focusing on the plaintiffs' experts' conclusions rather than their methodologies, (2) requiring the experts to back their opinions with published studies that definitively supported their conclusions, and (3) taking a hard look at the experts' methodology. Williams & Connolly represented Bayer on appeal. Lisa Blatt presented oral argument, and Lane Heard, Matthew Greer, and Kimberly Broecker authored the appeal brief.
Within one week after oral argument, the Second Circuit soundly rejected each of plaintiffs’ arguments. Specifically, the court emphasized that “not only was it appropriate for the district court to take a hard look at plaintiffs' experts' reports, the court was required to do so to ensure reliability,” held that the lower court had not erred by requiring the experts to back their opinions with studies definitively supporting their conclusions, and affirmed that summary judgment was appropriate in light of plaintiffs’ inability to establish general causation. Commenting on the win, a spokesperson from Bayer stated: “We are pleased with the Second Circuit’s decision to uphold the district court’s Daubert and summary judgment rulings finding plaintiffs failed to provide reliable testimony on the essential issue of causation, either from their own paid experts or any other source, which is a requirement for cases of this nature.”
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