Litigation-generated science: why should we care?

Environ Health Perspect. 2008 Jan;116(1):117-22. doi: 10.1289/ehp.9987.


Background: In a 1994 Ninth Circuit decision on the remand of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Judge Alex Kosinski wrote that science done for the purpose of litigation should be subject to more stringent standards of admissibility than other science.

Objectives: We analyze this proposition by considering litigation-generated science as a subset of science involving conflict of interest.

Discussion: Judge Kosinski's formulation suggests there may be reasons to treat science involving conflict of interest differently but raises questions about whether litigation-generated science should be singled out. In particular we discuss the similar problems raised by strategically motivated science done in anticipation of possible future litigation or otherwise designed to benefit the sponsor and ask what special treatment, if any, should be given to science undertaken to support existing or potential future litigation.

Conclusion: The problems with litigation-generated science are not special. On the contrary, they are very general and apply to much or most science that is relevant and reliable in the courtroom setting.

Keywords: Daubert; biomedical research; conflict of interest; litigation; peer review; regulatory science; science and litigation; scientific evidence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Conflict of Interest*
  • Judicial Role
  • Peer Review, Research
  • Periodicals as Topic
  • Prejudice
  • Science / legislation & jurisprudence*