MCS-Related Disciplinary Documents and Depositions
of Drs. William Rea and Alfred Johnson

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

The expression "multiple chemical sensitivity" ("MCS") is used to describe people with multiple troubling symptoms attributed to environmental factors. Many such people have applied for disability benefits and filed lawsuits claiming that exposure to common foods and chemicals has made them ill. Their legal efforts are supported by a small cadre of physicians who use questionable diagnostic and treatment methods. This page links to disciplinary documents and depositions of two such such promoters: William J. Rea, M.D and Alfred R. Johnson, D.O. It also summarizes cases in which their proposed expert testimony was excluded. Please contact me if you have additional documents or other information about their legal involvements.

Disciplinary Actions against Rea

In 2007, the Texas Medical Board charged Rea with (a) using pseudoscientific test methods, (b) failing to make accurate diagnoses, (c) providing "nonsensical" treatments, (d) failing to properly inform patients that his approach is unproven; (e) practicing in areas for which he has not been trained; and (f) representing himself certified by a board that is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. In 2010, the Board approved a mediated agreed order that required Rea to revise the form he uses to obtain consent to treat patients with injections of environmental substances. The order was based upon Rea's failure to obtain informed consent from five patients diagnosed with chemical sensitivity and/or environmental sensitivity. During the investigation, Rea testified in a deposition that a "car exhaust" solution he used for injections was so dilute that only an "electromagnetic imprint" of the original active substances remained.. The revised consent form must state that (a) his injections contain only the “electromagnetic imprint” of the agents in question, (b) the therapy is not FDA-approved, and (c) the therapeutic value of the therapy is disputed. In addition, he must not start using any formulations that contain any amounts of substances classified as hazardous or carcinogenic by the Environmental Protection Agency or any other federal or state regulatory agency.

Rea is also licensed in Ohio. After learning about the Texas case, the State Medical Board of Ohio ruled that even though Rea was not practicing in Ohio, it would hold him to the same restrictions. Rea appealed this decision, but in 2013, the Franklin County (Ohio) Court of Common Pleas upheld the Ohio Board's ruling.

Disciplinary Action against Johnson

In 2007, the Texas Medical Board charged that Johnson had (a) improperly diagnosed a patient, (b) administered "nonsensical" treatment, (c) and was not properly informing patients that his approach is unproven. In 2010, Johnson signed a mediated agreed order under which he was reprimanded, fined $4,500, and ordered to take 32 hours of continuing medical education courses related to allergy and immunology. He was also required to (a) provide the Board with a list of the substances he utilizes for antigen/desensitization therapy, indicating which are commercial (FDA-approved) and which are not, (b) Provide informed consent using forms attached to the agreed order, and (c) separately track or segregate charts involving his use of the therapy, so as to be able to track outcome trends, identify recurrent side effects and complications, and provide ready access to these charts in the event of a future related investigation by the Medical Board.

Johnson was also licensed in Missouri and Florida. In 2010, he and the Missouri State Board of Registration for the Healing Arts signed a settlement agreement under which he was reprimanded, ordered to provide a list of the extracts that he used in his practice, and required to comply with the Texas Medical Board's order. In 2013, he entered into a settlement agreement with the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine under which he was reprimanded, fined $2,500, ordered to pay $764.12 for costs, and requiured to show proof of completing 18 hours of continuing education in allergy and immunology as required by the Texas Medical Board. The Florida Department of HealthWeb site indicated that Johnson's license expired in 2010.

Rea Depositions

Johnson Depositions

Cases in Which Expert Testimony of Rea and/or Johnson Was Excluded
(Summaries provided by Timothy E. Kapshandy, J.D.)

In Bradley v. Brown [No. CIV-H85-958, 1994 WL 199827, Northern District, Indiana, May 17, 1994) affirmed, No. 94-2467, 7th Circuit, Dec 13, 1994], Two federal courts excluded testimony of Rea and Johnson. The trial court found their methodology anecdotal and speculative. Regarding the general concept of MCS, the court held that scientific knowledge about its etiology has not progressed from hypothesis to knowledge capable of assisting the jury.

Brandon v. First Republicbank Group Medical Plan [No. CA-7-89-002 (Northern District, Texas, Nov 27, 1990. The federal judge ruled that the services of Rea and Johnson were not medically necessary and therefore not coverable under an employee welfare benefit plan.

Breen and Carrasco v. Carlsbad Mun. Schools, Nos. 97-01218, 97-14745 (N.M. Workers Comp. Admin. June 29, 1999), affd, No. 20,833 (N.M. Ct. App., Dec. 2, 1999). Plaintiffs claimed MCS from fume exposure during renovation activities. The Commission excluded the evidence of Rea as his treatment was neither reasonable nor necessary. Moreover, the court held that his treatment "in point of fact . . . has proven to be counterproductive and deleterious for treatment of the worker's conditions."

Coffey v. County of Hennepin, 23 F.Supp.2d 1081 (D.Minn. 1998). This federal trial court excluded Rae's testimony about MCS, holding that federal courts do not consider MCS a scientifically valid diagnosis.

Gressel v. Ahern MacVittie & Hoffman, et al, No. CV 94-13040 (Maricopa Co., Ariz. Super. Ct. Dec. 9, 1997)(Exhibit 10). The court reasoned that the "environmental medicine" diagnosis of "toxic brain syndrome" and chronic fatigue syndrome was not "generally accepted." The plaintiff alleged that her symptoms resulted from exposure to mold in a damp school basement where she taught. The court concluded that Rea's use of provocation testing, SPECT scans, balance tests, and controversial diagnoses of toxic brain syndrome lacked sufficient controls to be generally accepted in the scientific community.

Hannan v. Pest Control Services, Inc., No. 49D02-9802-CT 173 (Marion Co., Ind. Super. Ct., July 16, 1999)(Exhibit 21). An Indiana court excluded Dr. Alfred Johnson and Dr. Doris Rapp's testimony regarding chemical sensitivity. Among the numerous flaws the court found with the proposed witnesses' methodology were that they failed to identify the specific substance at issue or levels of exposure; failed to determine the dose of the exposure of each plaintiff; and failed to rule out other possible causes.

Hundley v. Norfolk & Western Railway Co. [No. 91C 6127, N.D. Ill. Jan 31, 1996]. The court excluded the opinions of Rea and Johnson that plaintiff's one-time exposure to herbicides at a railyard was the cause of his MCS.

Mullenax v. McRae's. [No. 87-13915-D-3130, Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission, March 18, 1993] The Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission denied a claim that MCS that workplace exposure to solvents in art supplies had caused MCS. The Commission concluded that Rea's unorthodox methodology did not establish causal connection, and that even if they were to accept the theory that exposure to one chemical can cause multiple chemical sensitivities, other legitimate explanations were not excluded.

McNeel v. Union Pacific RR Co., No. C102-136, Order on Motion in Limine (D. Neb, Oct. 19, 2006) The Court excluded the opinions of plaintiffs' experts Rea, Simon, and Didriksen, who alleged that plaintiff had toxic encephalopathy based upon SPECT scans. The Court found the foundation "shaky but admissible" but then went on to exclude their opinions as irrelevant for failing to connect them to exposures at plaintiffs job. "Such a conclusion does not attain admissibility just because it bears the label of 'differential diagnosis'."

Mullenax v. McRae's, No. 87-13915-D-3130, Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission, March 18, 1993. The Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission denied a claim that MCS that workplace exposure to solvents in art supplies had caused MCS. The Commission concluded that Rea's unorthodox methodology did not establish causal connection, and that even if they were to accept the theory that exposure to one chemical can cause multiple chemical sensitivities, other legitimate explanations were not excluded.

Oppenheimer v. United Charities of New York, No. 121185/94 (Sup.Ct. N.Y., N.Y. Co., Dec. 23, 1998). Plaintiff alleged MCS due to a leaking toilet. Holding tht Rea's practices were untested and not generally accepted, the court excluded his testimony and granted defendant's motion for summary judgment.

In Phillips v. Velsicol Chemical Corporation [No. 93-CV-140-J, District of Wyoming, Sept 19, 1995]. plaintiff, a percussionist with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, alleged MCS symptoms had resulted from a single pesticide exposure in a concert hall. Rea's opinion about the harmful effects of chlordane on the plaintiff by "double-blind" tests was deemed irrelevant for lack of specifically identifying chlordane in the alleged incident in the concert hall.

In Maritime Overseas Corp. v. Ellis [No. C14-91-00795-CV, App. 14th Div., Texas, Dec 31, 1992] The Texas Court of Appeals reversed the $12.6 million judgment for a plaintiff who alleged that a one-time exposure to diazinon had caused delayed neurotoxic effects. The appeals court held that the methodology of plaintiff's experts (Johnson and two others) was speculative and not sufficiently validated to establish a causal connection.

In Summers and Potts v. Missouri Pacific Railroad System [No. 94-468-P, U.S. District Court, Eastern District, Oklahoma, Aug 25, 1995], railroad employees alleged they had developed chemical sensitivity and brain damage from short-term exposure to diesel exhaust fumes. The court excluded Johnson's testimony on the basis that the MCS hypothesis was unproven. The court also found his efforts to distinguish plaintiff's alleged "chemical sensitivity" from what was formerly called "multiple chemical sensitivity" unpersuasive.

This article was revised on November 23, 2016.

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