The Mississippi Supreme Court has determined, in a plurality decision, that a trial court erred in admitting the testimony of plaintiff’s experts and thus granted a paint company’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict in a case alleging that a child’s cognitive deficiencies were caused by exposure to lead-based paint. The Sherwin-Williams Co. v. Gaines, No. 2009-01866 (Miss., decided September 8, 2011). Accordingly, the court reversed a $7 million jury award for the plaintiff.
The court characterized the exposure and proximate cause opinions of plaintiff’s experts as unreliable, speculative, self-contradictory, incredible, and circumstantial. By “engaging in a classic logical fallacy: post hoc ergo propter hoc,” they apparently extrapolated both dose and duration of exposure to lead paint on the basis of a single measured elevated blood lead level. The concurring justices agreed with the result only, finding instead that the plaintiff failed to prove that the defendant made the paint that was used in the house where the child lived.