Correctional Healthcare Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Part

Plaintiff filed suit against the defendant related to a claim of medical indifference.  Plaintiff hired a Correctional Healthcare Expert Witness to provide testimony. Defendant filed a motion to exclude.  The court denied the motion in part and granted it in part.

Facts: This case (GLISSON v. INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION – United States District Court – Southern District of Indiana – December 27th, 2018) involves a claim of medical indifference to the medical needs of Nicholas Glisson, who died while in the custody of the Indiana Department of Corrections.  The plaintiff has hired Diane Sommer, M.D. (Correctional Healthcare Expert Witness) to provide testimony.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  Dr. Sommer has been employed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons at the Federal Correctional Institute, Otisville, as Clinical Director.  Based on her review of the relevant materials in this case, Dr. Sommer has concluded that the treatment Mr. Glisson received while in prison fell below the standard of case in many ways, that this care reflects a lack of continuity of case, and that the health care Dr. Glisson received led to his early death.

The defendant would like to limit the following testimony from Dr. Sommer: 1) Testimony that the medical treatment Mr. Glisson received while incarcerated led to his early death; and 2) Any opinion that Corizon has a policy that causes a constitutional deprivation or a practice that is so widespread that is permanent and well-stated as to constitute a custom or usage with the force of law.

The defendant argues that Dr. Sommer should not be allowed to offer her opinion that the care received from the defendant while incarcerated caused or contributed to his death because her report does not adequately explain the connection between the two.  The court disagrees.

The court opines that in her expert report, Dr. Sommer opines that despite multiple opportunities for medical intervention his condition was allowed to deteriorate until his death because of the substandard care provided by Corizon.  Specifically, Dr. Sommer opines that Mr. Glisson’s providers failed to recognize these symptoms and conditions as possible causes of the deterioration of his mental state, instead contributing his decline to a psychiatric case.  In addition. Mr. Glisson’s providers did not respond to his deterioration.

The court also opines that Dr. Sommer will not be permitted to testify on matters that were not disclosed in her expert report or that lie outside the scope of her medical expertise.  In addition, the court opines that the defendant is free to object to specific questions asked of Dr. Sommer at trial.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Diane Sommer, M.D. is granted in part and denied in part.