EPA’s lawyers won a controversial effort June 15 to offer late evidence in the landmark federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) trial, overcoming heated pleas from the plaintiffs’ lawyers to block admission of the abstract for an unpublished study that claims prenatal exposure to fluorinated drinking water may be beneficial.

… “The first time that plaintiffs heard from defense counsel that their experts intend to offer opinions on this abstract was on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.,” plaintiffs’ attorney Michael Connett said. “First time in this entire litigation. Literally on the eve of their expert taking the stand. This is the quintessential trial by surprise.”

At issue is the abstract for an unpublished fluoride study, which was included in a book of abstracts presented at a 2019 conference for the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology

… But during the June 15 proceedings, the defense called Ellen Chang, a scientist from the consulting firm Exponent, to testify on the scientific reliability of an abstract on a maternal urinary fluoride study from the Spanish birth cohort known as INMA, which is similar to the MIREC and ELEMENT cohort studies.

… Chen asked Justice Department lawyer Simi Bhat “why wasn’t this disclosed earlier?” when the abstract was entered into evidence. “Your side wasn’t aware of this until recently?”

“Correct, we hadn’t seen the abstract book from this conference until last week,” she said.

To a question about the current status of the study, she said, “The authors are submitting this paper for publication within the next 2-3 months.”

… However, he [Chen] accepted the study into evidence based on Chang’s testimony about the reliability of the cohort, as well as of a previous cohort study conducted on fluoridation by the same authors as those behind the abstract.

… He [plaintiff’s lawyer Connett] also asked Chang how much she had billed EPA so far for work incurred during the trial, in line with a familiar plaintiff strategy of painting the two Exponent scientists as “rented white coats” in order to call their testimony into question.

“Somewhere around a hundred and forty eight or nine thousand,” Chang said.

“Around three hundred and fifty thousand total to Exponent?”

“Something around that range,” Chang said…

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