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Abrupt End to Rohm Haas Cancer Cluster Trial

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - The trial of a chemical manufacturing giant accused of causing a deadly "cancer-cluster" in a rural Illinois village has ended abruptly, according to a court official with the office of presiding Court of Common Pleas Judge Allan Tereshko.

"We are disappointed that the trial is over, but the case is not concluded ... motions that will impact the proceedings are pending before the Court," said plaintiff's counsel, Aaron Freiwald of Philadelphia-based Layser & Freiwald, in a written statement.

Those motions include Freiwald's oral motion for mistrial and the defense's oral motion to enter judgment.

Courthouse News has obtained an order issued Friday after those two motions; it directs Freiwald to produce records of all communication his firm has had with one of its expert witnesses concerning changes made to the witness' epidemiological report.

An in-camera hearing on Thursday centered on those changes and the witness, Columbia University scientist Dr. Richard Neugebauer, has been instructed to preserve the contents of his computer and produce documents related to the changes, according to the order.

The parties must file their briefs and responses to the respective motions no later than November 15, the order states.

In the first trial of at least 31 related cases against Rohm and Haas and its subsidiaries, plaintiff Joanne Branham claimed the company's plant poisoned the wells in the village of McCullom Lake, causing a cluster of rare brain cancers, including the glioblastoma that killed her 63-year-old husband, Franklin, in June 2004.

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