Patterson v. McArthur, No. 2009-CA-01037SCT (Miss. 2011)

The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s ruling that Plaintiff’s experts’ opinions concerning the pre-death level of Demerol in the decedent’s system should be stricken, and that summary judgment was warranted. Bradley K. Overcash and Diane V. Pradat showed on appeal that the trial court’s opinion properly relied on the recent Hill v. Mills decision and that the Plaintiff’s experts’ opinions did not have a reasonably reliable bases to survive the legal challenge.  The Plaintiff’s experts had given opinions concerning the amount of Demerol in the decedent’s blood stream that allegedly led to the baby’s death could be determined by back-extrapolation from the level of Demerol from a post-mortem blood sample. A Daubert hearing was conducted, and the trial court excluded the Plaintiff’s experts’ opinions because the Defendants’ experts presented peer-reviewed literature demonstrating that the half-life calculation used by the plaintiff’s experts were unreliable. The Defendants’ experts contradicted the Plaintiff’s experts’ testimony with published, peer-reviewed data, and the Plaintiff failed to respond with evidence showing acceptance and support in the scientific community of the Plaintiff’s experts’ theories. The trial court struck the Plaintiff’s experts’ opinions and entered summary judgment in favor of Ms. Pradat & Mr. Overcash’s client.  The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld the favorable ruling.