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Jo Belle Baldonado v. Wyeth and Its Division

August 31, 2012

JO BELLE BALDONADO, PLAINTIFF.
v.
WYETH AND ITS DIVISION, WYETH PHARMACEUTICALS, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On July 30, 2012, Defendant Wyeth filed a "Renewed Motion in Limine No. 4 to Bar Evidence, Argument, and Expert Opinions Concerning the Number of Women Whose Breast Cancer was Purportedly Caused by Hormone Therapy."*fn1 (R. 340, Def.'s Mot.) Despite the breadth of its caption, the motion is relatively narrow: Defendant seeks to exclude the expert opinions of Dr. Graham Colditz "regarding the number of women in which HT allegedly caused breast cancer." (R. 344, Def.'s Mem. at 1.) The motion is denied as described below.

BACKGROUND*fn2

I. Dr. Graham Colditz

Defendant does not challenge Dr. Colditz's expert qualifications. For purposes of background, Dr. Colditz is an expert epidemiologist who "stud[ies] the causes and prevention of disease at the level of population." (Colditz Dep. at 16.) His "primary focus is on cancer." (Id.) Dr. Colditz holds a medical degree from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, which he earned in 1979. (Id. at 16-17.) Additionally, as Dr. Colditz explained at his deposition

I have a Master of Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health. I have a Doctorate in Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health. I have an M.D./Ph.D. equivalent from the University of Queensland on top of the medical degree, and I've been admitted to the Australian Faculty of Public Health Medicine, which in some circles, is also considered equivalent to a higher degree. (Id. at 17-18.) Dr. Colditz's educational background has involved "broad training in statistics, epidemiology, health policy, [and] behavior," and has provided him with a "grounding in research skills" to work "in the public health sector." (Id. at 18.)

Dr. Colditz currently serves as the Associate Director for Prevention and Control at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center, and the Niess-Gain Professor in the School of Medicine, Department of Surgery, at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. (Id. at 18-19.) He has previously held academic and medical appointments at Harvard University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Queensland. Dr. Colditz has authored and published more than 700 articles in peer-reviewed journals. (Id.) He has written or co-authored six books, in addition to over 100 "reviews, editorials [or] commentaries." (Id. at 21.) Dr. Colditz has served in a leadership capacity in numerous professional associations, including from 2000-2004 as the Director of the New England Division of the American Cancer Society and from 2003-2006 as the Director of the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention. Dr. Colditz has received professional recognition for his work and, in addition to myriad other experiences, has served as the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Cancer Causes and Control and as a principal investigator on the Nurses Health Study, a decades-long study of chronic diseases in women, including the relationship between hormone therapy and cancer. (Id. at 25-30.)

II. Evidence at Issue

In advance of trial, Plaintiff has designated certain portions of Dr. Colditz's deposition testimony for trial. Defendant presently moves to exclude the following deposition testimony:*fn3

COUNSEL: Have you done an estimate of the number of women per year who have gotten breast cancer that was caused by their use of E plus P, estrogen plus progestin?

COLDITZ: Yes, I have made that calculation, just as other epidemiologists have in their publications.

COUNSEL: Now, you mentioned that this calculation that you did to come up with this estimate was similar to calculations you've seen in the literature; is that right?

COLDITZ: I am using the same standard methods as we have in our discipline, epidemiology, to estimate the number of cases in the population. The same methods have been used to estimate the number of cases in Norway, the number of cases in the United Kingdom, and so I say I am using the standard methods consistent with the approach that others have used, yes.

COUNSEL: And what is your estimate of the number of women per year who have gotten breast cancer because of their use of estrogen plus progestin?

COLDITZ: I estimate that between 8 and 15,000 women per year in the United

States develop breast cancer because of the use of estrogen plus ...


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