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Sunday, July 14, 2024 | Back issues
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Experts Can Claim Paint Killed Trucker’s Dog

CHICAGO (CN) - A federal judge has allowed an expert to testify that exposure to paint fumes killed a dog named Boomer and caused its owner to develop a serious respiratory illness.

Steven Noffsinger says he and Boomer became sick while making a 2007 delivery of Dynaprime paint from a Valspar plant in Kankakee, Ill., to Santa Fe Springs, Calif.

Dynaprime paint is a solvent-based coating designed for use on metal coils.

While spending the night at a truck stop, Noffsinger discovered that the six dozen 55-gallon drums of paint had leaked under the cab of the truck.

One month later, Boomer died.

Noffsinger filed suit, claiming that the exposure to the paint fumes caused him to develop Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome (RADS), a permanent respiratory condition.

He wants five expert witnesses, including his physician, to draw this link at trial. Dr. Sheldon Mostovoy, a metallurgist, will testify that the drums were made of faulty steel and obviously cracked.

U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman gave these experts the green light on March 15.

"Defendants insist that all toxicologists offering medical causation testimony must know the substance alleged to have caused the injury, with no exceptions for diseases that, like RADS, are not defined as having been caused by a specific chemical," he wrote. "But because the medical literature defines RADS as being caused by unspecified irritants, it would be unnecessary - and potentially impossible - for a medical expert to isolate a chemical within the substance to which a RADS patient was exposed."

With regard to the metallurgist, Gettleman noted that "if defendants believe that Dr. Mostovoy's assumptions are inaccurate, their proper recourse is vigorous cross-examination."

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