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NJ Confirms the Court’s Gatekeeper Function and Joins the Slow March Toward State-Court Acceptance of Daubert

On August 14, 2018 by Schnader

Twenty-five years after the United States Supreme Court’s seminal decision on the admissibility of expert evidence, New Jersey has confirmed that it accepts the factors identified in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993), as part of its expert admissibility analysis in civil cases. In re: Accutane Litigation, No. A-25-17, — A.2d –, 2018 WL 3636867 (N.J. 2018). The In re Accutane opinion completes New Jersey’s march away from the “general acceptance” test originally articulated in Frye v. United States, towards a methodology-based approach for expert reliability that began in 1991 with the pre-Daubert case, Rubanick v. Witco Chem. Corp., 593 A.2d 733 (N.J. 1991). The Court determined that Daubert had the same goals as New Jersey’s preexisting precedent related to expert admissibility, specifically, both support a methods-based test and both ask whether an expert’s opinions and reasoning are scientifically valid. Thus, the Court held, the Daubert factors “dovetail with the overall goals of [New Jersey’s] evidentiary standard and would provide a helpful – but not necessary or definitive – guide for our courts to consider when performing their gatekeeper role concerning the admission of expert testimony.” In re Accutane, 2018 WL 3636867 at * 32.

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