Correctional Healthcare Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Incarceration Litigation

Summary: Correctional Healthcare Expert Witness allowed to testify in incarceration litigation as the court ruled that he is qualified to testify based on his education.

Facts:  This case (Rogers v. Hierholzer et al – United States District Court – Western District of Texas – December 28th, 2018) involves a claim that prison officials were deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of the plaintiff during his incarceration at Kerr County Detention Center.  The complaint asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of the Eight Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.  The defendants have hired Correctional Healthcare Expert Witness David M. Mathis, M.D. to provide expert witness testimony.  The plaintiff has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion: The plaintiff claims that Dr. Mathis’s expert testimony is unreliable and will not assist the trier of fact in deciding the relevant issues.  Dr. Mathis will render an opinion as to the adequacy of the plaintiff’s medical treatment.  Dr. Mathis will opine that Dr. Smith did not deny the plaintiff adequate medical treatment at any time and that the plaintiff should be held responsible for his own injuries.

The court opines that Dr. Mathis is qualified to testify in this case about the adequacy of the plaintiff’s medical treatment and the specific causes of his injuries.  In addition, the court opines that his testimony on these topics are reliable and relevant.

The plaintiff contends that Dr. Mathis’s testimony is not relevant because it does nothing to assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence and that his testimony will confuse the jury.  The court opines that this argument has no merit.  The court rules that Dr. Mathis’s testimony on the adequacy of the plaintiff’s medical treatment is without a doubt relevant to the ultimate legal question of whether Dr. Smith violated the plaintiff’s Eight Amendment right to adequate medical case while he was incarcerated.

The plaintiff maintains that Dr. Mathis’s testimony is not reliable because his opinions are contrary to state and federal law.  The plaintiff states that Dr. Mathis’s opinions are not supported by case law and statutes and are therefore unreliable.   The court opines that the plaintiff’s motion to exclude is an attempt to litigate the merits of the underlying case disguised as an objection to the reliability of the expert’s testimony.

The court further opines that any other criticism of Dr. Mathis’s testimony is best done at cross-examination during trial.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness opinion of David M. Mathis, M.D. is denied.