Biomedical Expert Witnesses Allowed

Plaintiffs sued defendant after the trying birth of a baby, who suffered injuries during the birth.  Both parties hired Biomedical Expert Witnesses to provide expert witness testimony.  Both experts were challenged under Daubert, but the court denied both motions.

Facts: This case (Dorman et al v. Anne Arundel Medical Center, Inc. et al – United States District Court – District of Maryland – May 4th, 2018) involves a medical malpractice claim.  The plaintiffs allege that during the course of delivery, a baby that was delivered by the defendant caused numerous health issues such as limited mobility in his left arm and hand.  The baby was delivered after the defendant doctor performed a lateral force maneuver.  Both the plaintiffs and the defendants hired Biomedical Expert Witnesses to assist in proving causation.  Both parties have filed motions to exclude the expert witness testimony of each.

Discussion: The defendant’s expert witness, Dr. Michelle Grimm, rejected the theory that the type of injury suffered in this case could have happened only as a result of forces applied by the physician.  Her expert testimony opined that the cause of the injury to the fetus was maternal forces of labor.  Dr. Grimm is a biomedical engineer who has published numerous articles on the issue pertinent in this case.  She has collected computer simulation data that ended in a report published by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The plaintiffs argue that Dr. Grimm utilized animal nerves and animal tissue in her studies, which could produce an error in her results, but Dr. Grimm replied that it is not ethically possible for her to use human tissue in her studies.  In addition, the plaintiffs argue that her published papers do not match exactly the situation in this particular case.  She countered that matching the two would be impossible.

The court relied on another court opinion which allowed Dr. Grimm’s testimony in a similar case, thus solidifying her testimony in the current case.  The court denied the plaintiff’s motion to exclude Dr. Grimm’s testimony.

The plaintiff’s biomedical engineering expert, Dr. Robert Allen, has been publishing in the area relevant to this case since 1988.  He opined that it would be speculative to assign physician error to the facts of this case.  His opinions derive from several studies that he devised and published in the field.  Dr. Grimm has criticized Dr. Allen’s studies as not reliable because they are based on incorrect and unrealistic parameters.  In addition, Dr. Allen’s studies are criticized because they use a small sample and are based on outdated literature.

The court opined that any arguments against Dr. Allen’s opinion go to the weight of the evidence, not their admissibility.  Dr. Allen’s opinions follow a set of standards and he has published numerous articles in the field.  And, the court noted, another court has spoken highly of Dr. Allen’s theories.  Thus, the court opined that it will allow Dr. Allen’s expert opinion.

Conclusion:  The motions to exclude the expert witness testimony of Drs. Grimm and Allen are denied.