Court: Court of Appeals of Michigan
Case Name: Goff v. Niver
Citation: 2019 Mich. App. LEXIS 3160
In this medical malpractice case, the defendant obstetrician delivered the baby of the plaintiff. During the plaintiff’s delivery, the defendant obstetrician identified a second-degree tear in the perineum and surgically repaired the tear immediately. The plaintiff was discharged two days later. Thereafter, the plaintiff visited the defendant. The obstetrician diagnosed her with a tear in the external anal sphincter, but did not diagnose a rectovaginal fistula. It was later discovered that the plaintiff had a rectovaginal fistula.
The plaintiff’s tear was surgically repaired by another doctor at the University of Michigan Medical Center. However, the plaintiff continued to experience fecal leakage and underwent additional surgical procedures for the next two years. The plaintiff brought this action against the defendant obstetrician and her professional corporation for medical malpractice.
The defendants filed a motion in limine to exclude the testimony of the plaintiff’s obstetrics and gynecology expert on the issues of standard of care and causation. The trial court granted the defendants motion in limine. The plaintiff appealed against the grant.
The plaintiff retained an expert that was board certified in obstetrics/gynecology and maternal fetal medicine. The expert had been practicing medicine since 1989.
The expert testified that the plaintiff’s obstetrician failed to make a proper diagnosis and therefore violated the standard of care. However, the expert admitted that he had based his testimony upon his experience rather than scientific studies or literature. Similarly, the court agreed with the contention of the defendants that the expert’s testimony was not supported by any scientific data.
The court held that it would not overturn the ruling of the trial court whether to admit or exclude the testimony of an expert unless there was an abuse of the discretion of the trial court, as trial court would be in the best position to test the reliability of the expert’s testimony.
The court held that the plaintiff failed to provide any scientific data or study to support the opinion of the expert obstetrician. Therefore, the decision of the trial court was reasonable and within the range of principled outcomes.