Motion Seeks To Exclude Testimony From Professor

Monday, May 11th 2009, 5:17 pm
By: News On 6

Associated Press

TULSA, OK -- Poultry companies being sued by Oklahoma for allegedly polluting the Illinois River watershed want a judge to prohibit testimony of one of the state's expert witnesses in the case.

The companies say in a 431-page motion filed Friday in federal court that testimony offered by Valerie Harwood is unreliable and would be "confusing and unfairly prejudicial if presented to a lay jury."

But spokesman Charlie Price with the Oklahoma attorney general's office says such a filing is a normal pretrial motion and is not surprising.

Harwood is a professor at the University of South Florida who testified last year that she's identified a poultry litter-specific "biomarker." The biomarker reportedly traced a path that contamination from poultry waste travels from fields into the watershed.

The poultry companies point out in their motion that Harwood's work has been "severely criticized" and rejected by a leading journal.

A trial is expected to begin in September.