Expert Testimony in Suburethral Sling Case is Allowed in Part.

Plaintiff sued defendant arguing that the ObTabe inserted into her body was the cause of her infections.  The defense called three witnesses to assist in their case.  The plaintiff filed motions to exclude.

Facts:  This case (CLINTON v. MENTOR WORLDWIDE LLC – United States District Court – Eastern District of Missouri – December 30th, 2016) involves injuries sustained by the plaintiff (Clinton) after a suburethral sling called the ObTape Transobturator Tape (ObTape) was implanted into her body for the treatment of stress urinary incontinence.  Clinton sued the developer of the ObTape (Mentor) for numerous claims including negligence, strict liability design defect and strict liability failure to warn.  Mentor has hired three expert witnesses to assist in their case: Gonzalo R. Ballon-Landa, MD (Infectious Disease Expert Witness), Marjorie Jeffcoat, DMD (Dental/Dentistry Expert Witness)
, and Ruby Skinner, MD (Trauma Surgery/Trauma Medicine Expert Witness).  Clinton has filed motions to exclude the testimony of these experts.

Discussion:  Dr. Ballon-Landa opined that there were several significant events that led to the necrotizing fasciitis in Clinton’s left leg which led to the subclinical hematomas.  Clinton argues that Dr. Ballon-Landa’s testimony should be limited based on unreliability.  First, she argues that his opinion related to thigh trauma is unreliable because it is not based on sufficient facts and is speculative.   In addition, Clinton argues that Dr. Ballon-Landa’s opinion related to the source of the initial infection is unreliable as well.  In addition, Clinton argues that Dr. Ballon-Landa’s opinion about the on the timing of the initial infection is unsupported by the facts of the case and is thus unreliable.   The court disagreed with all of these arguments and opined that Dr. Ballon-Landa’s testimony is reliable and will be allowed.

Regarding D. Jeffcoat, Clinton argues that her opinions are unreliable and seeks to exclude her opinions regarding the source of the plaintiff’s infection, how the bacteria traveled to the infected area, and whether Clinton’s abuse of of methamphetamine and her “meth mouth” played a role in causing the infection.  Dr. Jeffcoat opined that the bacteria in Clinton’s thigh originated from her mouth.

First, Clinton argues that Dr. Jeffcoat’s opinion that the bacteria from her thigh originated in her mouth is speculative and not supported by facts or data.  In addition, Clinton also argues that Dr. Jeffcoat;s opinion that bacteria in the mouth can lead to a large abscess in the thigh is not supported by facts or data and is speculative.  The court disagreed, stating that Dr. Jeffcoat’s opinions are based on sufficient facts and data and will be allowed.

Dr. Ruby Skinner opined that Clinton’s infections did not originate from her ObTape implant and opined that her infection was caused by trauma to her left thigh and groin area.  Clinton argues that Dr. Skinner is not qualified to offer such an opinion and is also based on insufficient facts and unreliable methodology.  The court opined that Dr. Skinner is qualified to offer opinions about the potential causes of the infection.  However, her opinion on blood-borne spread will not be allowed.

Conclusion: The expert witness testimony of Gonzalo R. Ballon-Landa, MD will be allowed.  The motions to exclude the expert witness testimony of Marjorie Jeffcoat, D.M.D and Dr. Ruby Skinner, M.D are granted in part and denied in part.