Correctional Healthcare Expert Witness Not Allowed

Plaintiff sued defendant for medical malpractice and negligence after the death of plaintiff’s daughter.  The plaintiff hired a Correctional Healthcare Expert Witness to provide testimony.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude this testimony.  The court granted this motion.

Facts:  This case (Carter v. Lake County, Ohio et al – United States District Court – Northern District of Ohio – April 4th, 2018) involves a civil rights and wrongful death action.  The Plaintiff’s allege that the nurse at a correctional facility, where the plaintiff’s decedent was incarcerated, was negligent by deviating from the standard of care while attending to the decedent.  The plaintiff brings this action for wrongful death, malpractice, negligence, as well as violation of the decedent’s civil rights.  The plaintiff has hired Correctional Healthcare Expert Witness, Dr. Lawrence Mendel,  to opine on how the defendants deviated from the standard of care, which caused the decedent to die.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude this testimony.

Discussion:  The defendants allege that Dr. Mendel does not opine that the nurse’s care exhibited deliberate indifference to the needs of the decedent.  In addition, they criticize Dr. Mendel’s opinion that physicians in a jail setting must perform a comprehensive evaluation of a patient’s chest pain within one hour of such pain.  Last, they argue that Dr. Mendel’s opinion on proximate causation is speculative.

The court opines that Dr. Mendel’s reports and testimony is not reliable or relevant.  The court writes that Dr. Mendel’s advocates a standard of care that is not consistent with the national standard.  In fact, he admits that his opinion is not the standard.  Dr. Mendel does not point to the applicable literature, peer reviewed studies, or professional correctional healthcare policies that corroborates his opinions.  The court opines that his personally-held opinion that a physician is required to read a patients EKG results within an hour is irrelevant and will not be helpful to the trier of fact in this case.

In addition, the court opined that Dr. Mendel has not opined to the appropriate degree of medical certainty that the defendant’s delay was the proximate cause of the decedent’s death.  Dr. Mendel’s opinion that the decedent’s chances of survival would would have been better if she received treatment in a hospital setting is not beyond the knowledge of a lay jury.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert opinion of Dr. Lawrence Mendel is granted.