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Michael HoenigMichael Hoenig ()

An important decision issued on February 28 by the Appellate Division, First Department, tees up a grand refresher course on New York’s legal standards for admitting expert testimony in toxic tort litigation—in this case, a claim on behalf of a deceased auto mechanic alleging that his mesothelioma was caused by asbestos found in defendant Ford Motor Company’s brakes, clutches and gaskets. This new decision, Matter of New York City Asbestos Litigation, 2017 NY Slip Op. 01523, 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 1505 (1st Dep’t, Feb. 28, 2017), boasts an informative opinion for the court by Justice David B. Saxe; a concurring opinion by Justice Marcy L. Kahn reminding all that changes in the state’s jurisprudence on expert testimony must be made by the Court of Appeals; and a robust dissenting opinion by Justice Paul G. Feinman that adds some intellectual tension to the expert reliability issues. This opinion bundle teaches important lessons, and interested readers can learn about the big picture of what’s needed from experts. While the factual setting is an asbestos case with which many lawyers may not identify, the gleanings on experts’ opinions transcend asbestos.

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