Ms. Madej brought suit to enjoin roadwork near her house on the grounds that the asphalt used triggered her multiple chemical sensitivity, thus violating the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Madej, 951 F.3d at *367-68.
Due to Ms. Madej’s extreme chemical sensitivity, she had requested that the county engineer provide advance notice of chemical spraying that was to be done within a three-block radius of the home. Id. at *368. After extensive discussion between Mr. Maiden, the county engineer, the community, and Ms. Made, the county proceeded with paving a nearby road. Id. As a result, the Madejs brought suit against Mr. Maiden and the state court granted preliminary relief. In support of her case, Ms. Madej’s attorney sought to admit testimony of an expert, Dr. Molot, regarding his opinions as to the causal link between the chemical spraying exposure and Ms. Madej’s harm. Specifically, Dr. Molot testified that the pouring of asphalt would trigger Ms. Madej’s chemical sensitivity.
For a doctor’s expert testimony to be admitted, it must be sufficient under the standard set by Federal Rule of Evidence 702. Id. at *369. Four key factors comprise this rule: 1) the expert testimony must be helpful, 2) the testimony must be based on sufficient facts and data, 3) it must be derived from reliable methods, and 4) the expert must have reliably applied the method to the facts at issue. Id. These factors ensure that the evidence produced is both relevant and reliable. Id.
In terms of relevancy, the federal court concluded that the district court had properly decided that the expert opinion was not sufficient to assist the jury in determining whether the asphalt had caused Ms. Madej’s harm. Id. at *370.
In analyzing whether the expert opinion was reliable, the federal court cited Kumho Tire which grants a court “considerable leeway” in determining whether an opinion is reliable. Id. at *374. As a result, such review must necessarily be deferential. Id. Under the Tenth Circuit line of precedent, evidence of multiple chemical sensitivity is deemed controversial and unreliable. Id. at *374-75. Generally, therefore, the court deemed such testimony was properly excluded. Id. at *375. More specifically, the court looked to each of the doctor’s specific assertions. Id. Dr. Molot’s opinion was insufficient, as being based on fact alone, rather than an objective method of testing. Id. His opinion related that asphalt would cause a harmful reaction; however, he was unable to specifically identify the chemicals in the asphalt that would be the source of Ms. Madej’s harm. Id. The opinion produced did not undergo any testing or consider any alternative causation, and only referenced Ms. Madej’s medical history. Id. at *376. The doctor himself noted that all he had to base his opinion on was Ms. Madej’s self-reported symptoms, and did not offer evidence that the scientific community would have accepted this method of demonstrating causation. Id. This tenuous connection between asphalt and Ms. Madej’s symptoms did not sufficiently discard other theories for why she might have this allergy. Id.