Legal Malpractice Suit Dismissed Following Daubert Challenge to Mold Expert
In Young v. Burton, 567 F.Supp.2d 121 (D.D.C. July 22, 2008), the plaintiffs filed a legal malpractice claim based on the defendants' alleged failure to file a timely personal injury lawsuit. The underlying suit was a claim for damages suffered by plaintiffs as a result of exposure to toxic mold while residing at an apartment building. In order to succeed on their legal malpractice claim, plaintiffs were required to show that they could have recovered in the underlying tort suit. To make this showing, the plaintiffs relied on the expert testimony of Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker as to the cause, nature, and extent of their injuries from exposure to toxic mold.
At the close of discovery, the defendants moved to exclude Dr. Shoemaker's testimony, on the grounds that his opinions were not based on a reliable methodology, and that regardless, Dr. Shoemaker did not follow his own methodology with respect to plaintiffs.
In a lengthy and well-reasoned opinion, Judge Huvelle concluded that Dr. Shoemaker's diagnosis of plaintiffs, as well as his opinions relating to general and specific causation, were not sufficiently grounded in scientifically valid principles and methods to satisfy Daubert. The defendants' motions were granted.
In a subsequent ruling, Judge Huvelle granted the defendants' motions for summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiffs had no expert testimony to support their underlying claims.