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Center for Law and the Public’s Health



Chicago v. Beretta USA
The City of Chicago and Cook County brought suit against manufacturers, distributors, and dealers of handguns that had been illegally used in the city. The city attempted to recover some of the expenses incurred by gun violence, such as compensation for the costs of emergency medical treatment for victims of gun violence and law enforcement efforts. The plaintiffs also sought injunctive relief (including a prohibition on repeat sales to a single customer) to assist in the reduction of gun violence. The premise for the liability of the defendants was public nuisance. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the elements of a public nuisance cause of action were not met since there is no public right to be free from the threat that members of the public may commit crimes against individuals, the defendants did not violate any laws regulating firearms or act negligently in conducting their business, the defendants owe no duty to the City of Chicago to prevent gun violence, and proximate cause could not be established where the persons who used the guns were out of the control of the defendants. The court chose not to expand the breadth of public nuisance law and instead maintained that changes to such a highly regulated industry must come from legislation, not the courts.



Cincinnati v. Beretta USA
o recover for the harm caused by guns, the city of Cincinnati brought this civil suit against a firearms manufacturer on the theories of nuisance, products liability, and negligence. In its opinion, the Ohio Supreme Court considers multiple tort issues, including the nature of the nuisance doctrine and the relationship between the defendant’s actions and the harm alleged by the city.



  Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
After giving birth to two children with severe birth defects, petitioners sued the maker of Bendectin, a anti-nausea drug taken during pregnancy. To establish a causal link between the drug and birth defects, the petitioners introduced the testimony of eight experts. But does this evidence meet the ‘general acceptance’ test as formulated in the decades-old Frye case? Or should the Frye standard be abandoned altogether?

  General Electric Co. v. Joiner
After working with for several years with substances later found to be toxic, city electrician Robert Joiner was diagnosed with lung cancer. A federal district court granted General Electric’s motion for summary judgment, noting that the testimony Joiner’s expert witnesses failed to rise above the level of "subjective belief or unsupported speculation.” The court of appeals reversed. What is the appropriate standard of review, and how much deference must be given to the lower court’s ruling?

Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael
Claiming that a defective tire caused his vehicle to overturn, killing one and injuring many, Carmichael called a tire failure expert to testify on his behalf. Interpreting Daubert, the Supreme Court answered several questions: To what kinds of experts and expert testimony should Daubert apply? How should a trial judge determine the reliability of expert evidence?

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