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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS: Wesley Smith, a general maintenance worker at a Brookshire grocery store, was told by his supervisor to clean the walls and vents of the bakery. He used several commercial cleaners, including Clorox Liquid Bleach, Easy-Off Oven Cleaner, Lime-A-Way, Scrubbing Bubbles and Clorox Formula 409. When his eyes, skin, nose and throat became irritated, Smith complained to his supervisor, who told him to complete his job, even though no protective gear was available. The next night, the supervisor directed Smith to use the same combination of cleaners to clean the store’s bathrooms. Again, there was no protective wear and Smith experienced irritation. Smith’s parents took him to the emergency room after work, where he was diagnosed with reactive airways dysfunction syndrome, a condition related to asthma. Smith filed suit against Brookshire. Dr. Gary Friedman, a pulmonary and internal medicine specialist, testified as Smith’s expert. Friedman concluded that based on the warning labels on the cleaners Smith used, combined with the material safety data sheets and Smith’s personal account of the occurrence, the cleaners caused Smith’s RADS. He did not know which specific cleaners were used, or in what concentration. Nor did he refer to any scientific literature associating RADS with commercial cleaners. A jury awarded Smith $46,00 in actual damages, and $250,000 in punitives, which the trial court reduced to $200,000. On appeal, Brookshire challenges the legal sufficiency of Smith’s causation evidence. HOLDING: Reversed and rendered. Much like toxic-tort plaintiffs, chemical-exposure plaintiffs must prove both general and specific causation. The court concludes that Friedman’s opinion does not provide scientifically reliable proof of general causation. Smith contends Friedman’s opinion was based on: 1. specialized training and experience; 2. Smith’s medical records and his account of the exposure in question; 3. the MSDS and the commercial cleaners’ warning labels; and 4. other peer review articles. First, although Friedman is an accomplished physician with extensive training and expertise, the court notes that this relates only to Friedman’s qualifications, not to the reliability of his opinion. Second, no showing was made at trial that Smith’s medical records addressed whether the commercial cleaners at issue were generally capable of causing RADS. Friedman was required to put forth a scientific foundation between Smith and the cleaners to prove general causation. Third, Friedman’s extensive reliance on the MSDS and warning labels was insufficient because neither the MSDS nor the warning labels, standing alone, provide the type of specific, detailed showing of scientific reliability required to accord evidentiary value to an expert’s opinion. Fourth, though Friedman briefly referred to other peer review articles, he did not rely on that article forming an opinion on general causation. “Dr. Friedman provided no scientific support for his theory that Smith’s exposure to the commercial cleaners in question was capable of causing RADS. The analytical gap between Dr. Friedman’s causation opinion and the scientific data advanced to support that opinion was simply too wide.” OPINION: Alcala, J.; Radack, C.J., Alcala and Higley, JJ.

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