Reichert v. Phipps

In Reichert v. Phipps, 2004 WY 7, 84 P.3d 353 (Wyo. 2004), the Wyoming Supreme Court reversed a trial court's order prohibiting the plaintiff from offering evidence that the car crash at issue in the case caused her fibromyalgia. Id. at 355. The court framed its analysis as follows: "We are not deciding whether trauma can cause fibromyalgia, or even whether, as a general proposition, there is sufficient scientific foundation for the theory to allow juries to decide the issue as a question of fact. . . . The question before us is limited to whether this particular trial court, given the evidence and arguments at the time, reasonably could have concluded as it did." Id. at 357. In finding that the trial court abused its discretion in excluding the evidence, the court found that, since some experts do believe that trauma can cause fibromyalgia, the proffered expert had reliable grounds for reaching such a conclusion and that therefore his opinion was admissible. Id. at 364. "In the instant case, the proffered expert opinions were based on the petitioner's self-reported symptoms, filtered through the two doctors' perceptions after years of experience with similar patients. The opinions were given in the overall context of a professional controversy over the link between physical trauma and FM, in which some experts take the position that there is, indeed, a causal connection. We conclude that, under these circumstances, the trial court abused its discretion in not allowing the jury to determine the weight to give the opinion testimony." Id.