Cast you mind back, dear Reader, to July last year when the RhoGAM ruling failed to find general or specific causation for thiomersal causing autism. That little episode has taken a heavy toll on the ‘expert witness’ status of both Mark Geier and Boyd Haley, both of whom were eviscerated by the presiding judge.
But, hey, at least they had the guts to stick around. Some people decide to do a runner at the first sign of trouble.
Enter Jeff Bradstreet, advocate of <a href="exorcism (yes, really) for treating autism.
In September of 2006, Bradstreet was the designated ‘expert witness’ in a case of Aventis Pasteur, Inc. v. Skevofilax, the latter being a family that filed suit on the claim that:
…their minor son’s autism was caused by toxic levels of mercury contained in thimerosal, a preservative used in the vaccines.
This trial ended abruptly when:
After three amended scheduling orders and nearly eleven months of discovery, Respondents’ sole expert on specific causation withdrew from further participation in the case without ever having rendered his expert opinion.
There’s a lot of legal stuff going on in the background of this case regarding whether it was right to hold the Skevofilax’s responsible for the failure of the case. The first trial said it was, they appealed and the appeal judge supported this appeal and now this summary judgement has reversed the appeal.
However, what I’m really interested in is _why_ the ‘expert witness’ failed to materialise.
James Jeffrey Bradstreet, M.D., was designated to testify to specific causation, i.e., “that significant amounts of mercury to which the minor plaintiff was exposed, including bolus doses received as a result of vaccination, was a substantial factor in causing [Michael's] current injuries and symptoms,” and further, “that the exposure to toxic levels of mercury within the vaccines [was] a substantial contributing factor to the minor Plaintiff’s ultimate injuries and symptoms.”
But what happened? Why did Bradstreet never testify?
On 26 October 2004, Respondents notified Petitioners, by letter, that “due to unforeseen circumstances [genomic profiling] test results critical to [Dr.] Bradstreet’s opinions” would be delayed up to sixty days. The relevant genomic susceptibility tests assertedly needed for Dr. Bradstreet’s expert medical opinion were being performed by a laboratory at the University of Arkansas. An affidavit completed by Dr. Bradstreet stated that an outbreak of leukemia in New Mexico caused the Arkansas lab ‘s director, Dr. Jill James, to be called out of town to consult on that outbreak, and that she would not be returning for several weeks. Drs. James and Bradstreet previously had collaborated on other projects. According to Dr. Bradstreet, he would be unable to formulate an expert medical opinion regarding causation specific to Michael’s injuries until the results of the genetic test results were received fro m Dr. James’ lab
Who else is rolling their eyes right now? Apparently, these ‘tests’ can only be performed by Jill James lab. And only by Jill James herself (I assume the other employees are useless?). There’s further no evidence to assume that these tests provide evedence of anything anyway and apparently the dog once ate his homework.
So, respondents and plaintiffs argued over a new schedule and a new schedule had to be enforced by the court in the end and Jeff Bradstreet was once again instructed to be made available for deposition, this time on 19 Nov 2005. Subjects at that deposition concerning Bradstreets role as an expert witness would include:
[a]ppropriate topics of inquiry for this deposition, [were to] include, but not be limited to, the nature and purpose of the GST [glutathione-S-transferase, a particular family of enzymes in the human genome] M1 [a particular gene which encodes the GST enzyme] polymorphism [i.e., difference or variation] test, the work that Dr. Brad street [had] performed to date in this action, his qualifications, his affidavit submitted in connection with Plaintiff ‘s Motion for Continuance, all of his opinions on the subject of general causation, and the results of those tests that Dr. Bradstreet [had] performed or directed to be performed and that [were] available as of the date of [the] initial discovery deposition.
In other words, a thorough examination of the man, his qualifications and the quality of his science.
But, the court decided if the results of his tests of unknown origin or efficacy that could only be performed by Jill James at Jill James lab ‘became available’ (snigger) then:
Dr. Bradstreet would be made available for additional discovery by no later than 14 January 2005 in order to explain how those results pertained to his expert opinion regarding specific causation.
And then (gasp!) the court received the following:
Counsel for Respondents informed the Circuit Court and opposing counsel, by letter dated 23 November 2004, that Dr. Bradstreet declined to participate further in the litigation. According to Respondents’ counsel, Dr. Bradstreet withdrew due to outside “professional and personal commitments and time constraints.
According to Bradstreet:
…the primary reason for his withdrawal was the impact the time commitment would have on his ability to spend time with his family.
So either he had no family before the start of proceedings or he forgot he had a family and then remembered or…oh hell, I don’t know…but strangely, Bradstreet was not to busy to speak at The Autism One conference in May 2005, or May 2006, or to attend and speak at a conference of the American Dietetic Assoc in October 2005.
I guess ‘too busy’ depends pretty much on how much money each gig pays and how often difficult questions are asked.
The end result for the Skevofilax’s?
Despite three amended scheduling orders, and approximately 11 months allotted to conduct discovery, Respondents failed to produce an expert who could testify to specific causation within a reason able degree of scientific certainty. Without such an expert, Respondents’ claims must fail as a matter of law.
Bradstreet hung them out to dry and they couldn’t find anyone else prepared to take on causation.
Thanks to A for the file :o) .