What kinds of information should a jury consider

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Question: BREAST IMPLANTS

The controversy surrounding breast implants is a good example of scientific uncertainty. Yanked from the market by the Food and Drug Administration in 1991 because of some evidence of dangerous side effects, breast implants received a reprieve in 1994 when the New England Journal of Medicine published an article that found no evidence of danger. An editorial in the San Jose Mercury News opined regarding the controversy:

The wisdom of letting science settle this question [regarding breast implants] will win the ready assent of everyone. "Scientific certainty" has such a reassuring ring to it. But the implant case is a sterling example of the limits of science. Regarding long-term harm, science often can't provide definitive answers within the time a decision needs to be made. And many policy decisions are out of the realm of science. What level of risk is reasonable for a woman who's lost a breast to cancer? What about reasonable risk for a woman who wants a fuller figure? Who decides what's reasonable? Is cosmetic breast enhancement a misuse of medicine to reinforce outdated notions of female beauty?

1. What kinds of information should a jury consider when deciding whether a plaintiff's claims of damages are reasonable? Anecdotes? The number of plaintiffs filing similar lawsuits? Scientific studies? What does a juror need to know in order to evaluate the quality of a scientific study? Do you think the average juror (or judge for that matter!) in the United States has the ability to critically evaluate the quality of scientific studies?

2. Discuss the questions asked in the last paragraph of the preceding quote. Do these questions relate to uncertainty (scientific or otherwise) or to values? Given the imperfect information available about breast implants, what role should the manufacturers play in deciding what risks are appropriate for which women? What role should government agencies play? What role should individual consumers play?

Reference no: EM131524096

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