Fluoride Action Network

EPA Attacks Fluoride Plaintiffs’ Witness After Daubert Motion Fails

Source: Inside EPA | June 12th, 2020 | By Diana DiGangi


…During June 10 testimony, plaintiffs presented five witnesses who they called to help bolster their arguments that fluoride poses neurological risks. They included Thiessen, president and senior scientist of the Oak Ridge Center for Risk Analysis, who argued for the validity of a series of animal studies on fluoride neurotoxicity, and their intraspecies applicability to humans.

But when the Justice Department (DOJ), representing EPA, began its cross-examination of Thiessen June 12, attorney Simi Bhat renewed the defense’s previously unsuccessful Daubert motion, a measure that can be used to exclude testimony if a witness does not possess the requisite level of expertise or used questionable methods to obtain data, to preclude Thiessen’s evidence.

Bhat charged her with failing to conduct her risk evaluation on water fluoridation according to the requirements of TSCA section 6(b), as well as for failing to consider the anti-cavity benefits of fluoride.

But the plaintiffs’ attorney, Michael Connett, pushed back.

“The threshold for admissibility for an expert opinion does not pivot on whether the expert has followed a particular rule under the regulations. There’s nothing that counsel has said that speaks to the reliability or lack thereof of Dr. Thiessen’s testimony in this case.”

“What about the failure to consider the health benefits?” Chen asked.

“It’s just incorrect,” Connett claimed. “Dr. Thiessen discussed at length in two reports the lack of benefit from swallowing fluoride, so I don’t know how counsel could even say that to this court.”

Chen denied the Daubert motion, leaving defense to cross-examine Thiessen.

Bhat then sought to pick apart Thiessen’s methodology in constructing her analysis of animal studies that showed a neurotoxic effect from fluoride, questioning the presence of studies that had not blinded experimenters and her decision not to define quality criteria when she searched a biomedical database for relevant literature on fluoridation…

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