Written by Scott Jacobs

kelly-cSpeaking at HB Litigation Conference’s toxic tort conference in Philadelphia last month, Collin K. Kelly of Alston & Bird offererd thoughts on the sources of experts, a task that can be exceedingly difficult and tedious when it comes to emerging mass torts.  

“It almost seems laughable to discuss this in the context of a mature tort such as asbestos.  We don’t have to do a lot to find the experts – they are all in this room.   But that is not the case with emerging torts.  There are lots of mass torts where there are  not a lot of known experts.  You need to talk to the defendants,  refer to Mealey’s tort publications  – – many have an index of experts in the back.  Go to the published literature and learn who are the key experts in the field.  It is very important to retain the key experts.  Other good sources includes http://www.ims-expertservices.com and www.roundtablegroup.com.

“The last area would be academia.  The primary reasons we go to academia is that experts especially regional experts from this area (academia) are not saddled with the things other experts might be saddled with.  They are not beholden to one side or the other.  They haven’t published for one side or the other.”

Kelly noted many times you can retain a retired epidemiologist.  He specifically mentioned the Centers for Disease Control has a great source for emerging experts.  Alston Bird, based in Atlanta takes advantage of its proximity to the CDC.  “They are just very good scientists,” says Kelly.

The CDC can expect an increase in call volume after that comment.

“Without a signature disease you have the ability to make a general causation challenge,” noted Kelly.  “Focus in on the disease.  Make sure you have somebody who is very detailed in the knowledge. Be very careful in finding an expert who is not subject to a bias defense.  Find a bullet-proof epidemiologist and lock them in as soon as you can.”

Scott Jacobs is a long-time legal writer and legal market expert, having held positions in editorial management and product development for the legal market.  He selected these quotes while attending the event, the materials from which are available now from HB Litigation Conferences.