Correctional Healthcare Expert Witness Testimony Partially Excluded in Prisoner Medical Litigation

Overview: Correctional Healthcare Expert Witness allowed to testify in part as the court stated that his expert witness testimony on the life expectancy of the deceased is not reliable.

Facts: This case (Paugh et al v. Ashley Valley Medical Center et al – United States District Court – District of Utah – August 8th, 2023) involves a claim by a prisoner that the defendants violated his constitutional rights because they failed to adequately provide medical care for his serious medical condition. The defendants hired Correctional Healthcare Expert Witness Dr. Kennon Tubbs to provide expert witness testimony on their behalf.  The plaintiffs filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion: The plaintiffs argue that Dr. Tubbs should be excluded as an expert witness in this case because he is biased, not qualified, unreliable, and will give evidence that is outside his scope of expertise.  The court initially states that Dr. Tubbs is qualified as a corrections medical expert and has expertise in the medical treatment of inmates by nurses and correctional officers. In addition, the plaintiff argues that Dr. Tubbs is not qualified to provide expert witness testimony on the issue of jail administration.  The court again disagreed, stating that, because he was a medical director of numerous county jails, he is qualified to testify about the medical aspects of jail administration.

The plaintiff also alleges that Dr. Tubbs should not be allowed to testify in this case because he is an interested party in the lawsuit and that it is in his interest to help the defendant in this lawsuit. The court disagreed, stating that the plaintiffs did not cite to a rule of evidence or any other authority which states that a court can exclude an expert witness only due to a conflict of interest.

Also, the plaintiff alleges that Dr. Tubbs’ testimony is not reliable because his expert witness report relied only on the facts that were in the declarations of the defendants.  In addition, the plaintiff states that Dr. Tubbs’ report did not have detailed citations.  The court disagreed, stating that the plaintiff did not cite any authority which holds that an expert witness can’t base their reports on the facts from sworn declarations. Also, the court stated that it is obvious which sources Dr. Tubbs used in his report.

Last, the plaintiff argues that Dr. Tubbs’ report is not reliable because his life expectancy calculation for the decedent is flawed.  The court agreed and opined that it will not allow Dr. Tubbs to testify about the decedent’s life expectancy.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Kennon Tubbs is granted in part and denied in part.