The Ninth Circuit recently reiterated the critical importance of a district court’s gatekeeper function with regard to the admissibility of expert testimony under Daubert.  In Barabin v. AstenJohnson (pdf), the court concluded that the district court abused its discretion in admitting expert testimony regarding causation (whether Barabin’s mesothelioma was caused by occupational exposure to asbestos) largely because the district court did not conduct a Daubert hearing as the defendants’ requested.  Having done so, the Ninth Circuit concluded that it was bound by precedent to remand the matter for a new trial.  Two panel members wrote a concurring opinion on that latter point, expressing disagreement with Ninth Circuit precedent requiring a new trial in cases where expert testimony is improperly admitted.  Were it not for that precedent, these judges would have conditionally vacated the district court’s judgment and remanded the matter to the district court to conduct a hearing to properly determine if the expert testimony was admissible under Daubert.  If so, then the concurring judges would permit the district court to re-enter the judgment rather than conduct another lengthy trial.  That approach is patently logical:  no purpose is served by requiring a new trial if, after a proper Daubert hearing, the expert testimony at issue is deemed reliable and therefore admissible.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Reiterates Critical Importance of District Court’s Gatekeeping Function under Daubert