Behavioral Science Expert Witness Testimony Excluded in Medical Malpractice Litigation

Behavioral Science Expert Witness was not allowed to testify because he was not allowed to provide medical advice.

Facts: This case (Gjini v United States of America et al – United States District Court – Southern District of New York – February 8th, 2019) involves a claim of medical malpractice or negligence, and failure to protect pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act.  The plaintiff is the administrator of the estate of his deceased younger brother, who committed suicide while in federal prison.  The plaintiff has hired Dr. George C. Klein, Ph.D. (Behavioral Science Expert Witness) to provide testimony on his behalf.  The United States has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The United States argues that Dr. Klein is not qualified to offer medical opinions and that his expert report is not reliable and should be found inadmissible.  The United States also argues that Dr. Klein makes improper conclusions of law and fact and provides irrelevant opinions.

The court opines that Dr. Klein is not qualified to serve as a medical expert.  The court further states that Dr. Klein has no medical education, training, or experience whatsoever.  In addition, he does not have a degree or any other training in pharmacology or experience with prescribing medications and he has never been engaged in the practice of medicine, and has never performed medical procedures on any patients.

In addition, the court opines that the plaintiff does not cite to any caselaw in which a proposed expert without any experience in prison administration was qualified to testify on jail standards.  The court also states that although Dr. Klein has been retained as an expert on police apprehension of the mentally ill and jail suicides, he does not have any experience with jail administration or management.  Also, his law enforcement experience is limited to having been an auxiliary police officer from 1995 to 2002 and from 2007 to 2008.

Also, the court also states that because it concludes that Dr. Klein has not met the “threshold” requirement of being qualified to testify, it does not need to analyze whether his testimony is reliable.  However, the court does note that there are serious concerns regarding the reliability of Dr. Klein’s testimony.  For example, he does not cite to any jail standard or code applicable in New York or elsewhere in the country.  In addition, Dr. Klein does not explain what the reasonable standard of care with respect to suicide prevention in prisons is, and he does not explain how the prison in this case deviated from those standards.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. George C. Klein, Ph.D. is granted.