The Courts, Daubert, and Willingness-to-Pay: The Doubtful Future of Hedonic Damages Testimony Under the Federal Rules of Evidence
Joseph A. Kuiper   |   1996 U. Ill. L. Rev.

The Supreme Court decision in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has altered the approach to the admissibility of scientific evidence in the federal courts. Presumably, this change will affect state courts as well, as they abandon the Frye general acceptance standard and adopt the Daubert approach. Testimony regarding the theory of hedonic damages, which purports to calculate the monetary value of the loss of enjoyment of life, is frequently proferred by plaintiffs' attorneys in federal civil rights suits and in state-law wrongful death and personal injury actions. The author applies the Daubert analysis to hedonic damages theory and concludes that it does not meet the standard set out by the Supreme Court. In addition to anticipating the manner in which the courts will deal with hedonic damages evidence under Daubert, this note stands for the broader proposition that novel scientific theories, at least those emerging from "soft" sciences such as economics, will face stiff resistance indeed in courts applying the Daubert standard.