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Victims can go to jury with circumstantial evidence of poisoning

In Gass and DeJonge v. Marriott Hotel Services,Ind. and EcoLab, Inc, the plaintiffs claimed that they were poisoned by pesticides used in their hotel room after they discovered a dead cockroach.  They described a toxic and noxious odor and vapors and claimed continuing serious symptoms following the exposure. 

The Defendants identified two toxic chemicals commonly used for insect control and one harmless chemical, but claimed that only the latter pesticide was used on the Plaintiff's room on the date in question.  The case was dismissed by the trial court for lack of evidence, however, the Sixth Circuit reinstated it.  The appellate panel agreed that the plaintiff's physicians were competent to testify about the cause of the Plaintiff's symptoms, even though they had no hands-on experience with toxic chemicals.  The court also held that the circumstantial evidence presented by the Plaintiffs created a genuine issue of material fact with regard to which chemicals had been used by Defendants on the date in question.  It concluded that alleged negligent spraying of pesticides did not automatically require a foundation of professional or scientific testimony.

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