A “Daubert hearing” takes its name from a United States Supreme Court case titled Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. It refers to a hearing in which the trial judge evaluates whether testimony or evidence from a particular expert is admissible. The hearing occurs outside of a jury’s presence before trial. This type of hearing is often necessary in a pharmaceutical injury case where the plaintiff alleges the drugs prescribed caused serious harm.
In Kentucky, a trial judge must determine whether the expert will be testifying to (1) technical, scientific, or specialized knowledge that (2) will help the trier of fact understand a fact at issue in the trial. A hearing is not always required, but a trial judge can only rule without a hearing if the record before the court is complete enough to measure the proposed evidence against the standards of reliability and relevance. Evidence must be both reliable and relevant to be admitted.
A 2008 pharmaceutical injury case involving, among other issues, a Daubert hearing arose when a woman gave birth to her second child by cesarean section. She didn’t want to breastfeed, so her obstetrician prescribed the drug Parlodel to stop her lactation. She started the drug and was discharged from the hospital. A few days later, she experienced a headache and pain between her shoulders. The next morning, her mother found her dead. Continue reading