Court Excludes OB/GYN Expert Whose Testimony Contradicts Medical Literature


OB/GYN Expert

Court: Court of Appeals of Michigan
Jurisdiction: Federal
Case Name: Morrow v. Moreno
Citation: 2013 Mich. App. LEXIS 1690

Facts

The plaintiff filed this appeal against a trial court order to exclude the testimony of her OB/GYN expert. The plaintiff retained an OB/GYN expert to opine on the defendant’s breach of the standard of care in her medical malpractice suit and discuss general appropriate obstetric and gynecological standards of care.

The plaintiff claimed that the defendant, an OB/GYN, erred in adhering to the standards of care after he failed to diagnose her and subsequently caused her an internal injury during a laparoscopy. The injuries the plaintiff suffered forced her to undergo 6 months of further medical procedures, which included surgery and hospitalization.

The OB/GYN Expert

The plaintiff’s OB/GYN expert was a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist with 40+ years of practicing experience. The expert completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Pennsylvania Health System. He was also a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and won multiple doctor awards for his work as an outstanding physician in New York and New Jersey.

The Deposition

At his deposition, the plaintiff’s OB/GYN expert testified that “the defendant breached the appropriate standard of care when he failed to recognize or notice and repair plaintiff’s bowel perforation upon inspection during surgery”. In the expert’s opinion, this was something every surgeon should check for 100% of the time. The plaintiff’s OB/GYN expert did not cite any supporting medical literature and relied exclusively on his medical training and extensive experience as an OB/GYN specialist to form his opinion.

The defendant moved to exclude the OB/GYN expert’s testimony citing medical literature contradicting his opinion. This convinced the trial court to find the expert’s opinion to be unreliable, and thus, inadmissible under the standards set by Daubert.

The trial court excluded the plaintiff’s OB/GYN expert testimony regarding the defendant’s breach of the standard of care from trial. The trial court then granted the defendant’s summary judgment motion based on the fact that the plaintiff could not satisfy the burden of proof in her claim of medical malpractice. As such, the plaintiff no longer had any supporting expert testimony stating that the defendant breached the standard of care. The plaintiff appealed, claiming the order was passed with prejudice.

Discussion

The plaintiff claimed that there was an error on the part of the trial court in excluding her OB/GYN expert’s opinion. The plaintiff further argued that the defendant’s contradiction to the OB/GYN expert’s failure to cite peer-reviewed literature was unjustified, as he had depended on 40+ years of medical training and experience.

The court disagreed with the plaintiff’s claim noting that “[a] trial court’s decision to admit or exclude evidence is reviewed for an abuse of discretion,” citing Edry v Adelman, 486 Mich 634, 639; 786 NW2d 567 (2010); also Craig v Oakwood Hosp, 471 Mich 67, 76; 684 NW2d 296 (2004). The court was of the opinion that “an abuse of discretion occurs when the trial court chooses an outcome falling outside the range of principled outcomes.” Edry, 486 Mich at 639.

Held

The court held that the trial court had not erred in excluding the plaintiff’s OB/GYN expert’s testimony. Without an expert to support her case, the court denied the plaintiff’s appeal against the trial court’s summary judgment.

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