The Fourth Circuit affirmed a district court’s grant of summary judgment in a products liability multidistrict litigation suit (MLS). Under the Daubert standard, district courts have an obligation to act as “gate keepers”—ensuring junk science does not find its way into the courtroom. In this products liability case, plaintiffs proffered expert testimony to try to prove a causal relationship between defendant’s pharmaceuticals and their injury. The district court excluded most of the proposed testimony after applying Daubert’s “twin rigors of relevance and reliability.” Because plaintiffs could not prove causation, the district court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment and declined to refer the cases back to their transferor courts.
Affirming the district court’s decision, the Fourth Circuit reiterated that district courts have wide discretion under Daubert and an important role in keeping unreliable and questionable expert testimony out of the judicial process. The Fourth Circuit also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to refer the plaintiffs’ cases back to their original courts. This decision helps to protect businesses from unfounded mass litigation suits by affirming the principle underlying Federal Rule of Evidence 702—that expert testimony must meet acceptable standards before being presented to a jury—and by affirming that, in MLS cases, businesses should not be subjected to multiple rounds of litigation once a court has granted summary judgment.