The US District Court N.N. Oklahoma in Teel v. United States of America dealt with a medical malpractice case arising out of treatment at the Claremore Indian Hospital (CIH). The plaintiff alleged failure to diagnose and properly treat his prostate cancer.
The defendant filed a Daubert challenge against plaintiff’s expert Milsten alleging:
…defendant challenges Dr. Milsten’s opinion that the testosterone treatment administered to Mr. Teel caused his prostate cancer to grow. “Dr. Milsten’s opinions at issue, about testosterone and causation, are not based on good grounds. He provides no testing or studies that support his view. Furthermore, he does not even mention, let alone engage with, the research cited by Defendant’s expert. Dr. Milsten does not support his opinions with anything beyond his own subjective views, without employing any scientific methodology.”
The court rejected the Daubert challenge finding that the Daubert test is to methodology and not necessarily the correct result.
The court stated:
Dr. Milsten’s opinion is sufficiently reliable. First, the relationship between testosterone and prostate cancer has and continues to be tested. While the position that testosterone accelerates the growth of prostate cancer cells in every case is the subject of debate [see Doc. 42-2, p. 14; Doc. 48-3], the government does not claim Dr. Milsten’s view has been completely falsified. The government’s expert, Dr. Little, acknowledged at his deposition that there is “no definitive answer one way or the other.” [See Doc. 48-2, pp. 3-4]. Neither unanimity of scientific opinion nor general acceptance is absolutely required for expert testimony to be admissible. See Daubert, 509 U.S. at 588 (“[A] rigid general acceptance requirement would be at odds with the liberal thrust of the Federal Rules and their general approach of relaxing the traditional barriers to opinion testimony. (quotation marks omitted)). Second, Dr. Milsten’s view has been subject to peer review and publication. The primary study he relies on was published in 1941, but there is no evidence the study has been disproved. Dr. Little—the government’s expert—even classified the 1941 findings as “maybe one of the most important discoveries that anybody has ever made in the whole prostate cancer treatment field.” [Doc. 48-2, p. 3]. In addition, plaintiff points to a 2016 peer reviewed publication finding “[g]iven the driver role for androgen receptor (AR) in prostate cancer, we believe that testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) may promote [prostate cancer] progression and cannot be given without expressing this concern.” [Doc. 48-3, p. 2]. While the study also presents the opposing view that there is no causal link between testosterone therapy and the growth of prostate cancer, the Federal Rules of Evidence do not require the expert be “undisputably correct.” Goebel, 346 F.3d at 991. “Instead, the plaintiff must show that the method employed by the expert in reaching the conclusion is scientifically sound and that the opinion is based on facts that satisfy Rule 702’s reliability requirements.” Id. Plaintiff has sufficiently done so here by showing Dr. Milsten’s opinion is supported by published studies, laboratory observation, clinical experience, and analysis of Mr. Teel’s PSA scores.
NOTE: This was a bench and not a jury trial and the court stated:
In further support of this conclusion, the court notes that “the usual concerns regarding unreliable expert testimony reaching a jury obviously do not arise when a district court is conducting a bench trial.” Attorney General of Okla. v. Tyson Foods