Barabin v. AstenJohnson, Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 11-16-2012
  • Case #: 10-36142; 11-35020
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Rawlinson for the Court; Concurrences by Circuit Judges Tashima and Graber
  • Full Text Opinion

A litigant is entitled to a new trial when a district court fails to hold a Daubert hearing or otherwise determine the reliability of expert testimony before allowing that testimony over an objection.

Plaintiff Henry Barabin claims that the cause of his mesothelioma was exposure to asbestos during his employment at a paper mill. The paper mill used dryer felts from AstenJohnson and Scapa; these dryer felts contained asbestos. First, pursuant to AstenJohnson’s motion in limine, the district court excluded Dr. Cohen’s evidence and limited Dr. Millette’s testimony. The court then reversed its decision regarding Dr. Cohen’s testimony during a pre-trial conference. After the jury found in favor of Barabin, Scapa and AstenJohnson filed motions for new trial, which were denied. They then both appealed the evidentiary rulings. The Court reviewed for abuse of discretion and vacated the judgment, remanding the case for new trial. The Court found that the district court abused its discretion in not holding a Daubert hearing, in accordance with Federal Rule of Evidence 702. This rule is intended to make sure that the expert testimony presented to the jury is reliable. The district court was at least “required to assess the scientific reliability” of the evidence. Since the district court did not make the gateway determination properly, it committed reversible error. As such, the Court granted a new trial. VACATED and REMANDED.

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