General Surgery Expert Witness Testimony Allowed

Plaintiff filed suit against defendant related to a medicall malpractice claim.  The Government hired a General Surgery Expert Witness to provide testimony.  The plaintiff filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.  The court denied the motion to exclude.

Facts:  This case (Tucker et al V. United States of America – United States District Court – Eastern District of Louisiana – September 5th, 2019) involves a medical malpractice claim.  The plaintiffs Inell Tucker, Tanya Craft, and Chukym Tucker filed a complaint against the United States looking for damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act for the death of Terry Tucker.  The plaintiffs allege that the United States of America, as operator of Southeast Louisiana Veterans Healthcare Services healthcare facility in New Orleans should be liable for the death of Mr. Tucker, who dies of esophageal cancer.  The Government has hired Dr. Christopher DuCoin (General Surgery Expert Witness) to provide testimony.  The plaintiff has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The plaintiffs argues that Dr. DuCoin is not qualified to offer an opinion in this case because he is a general surgeon and the current case involves a failure to diagnose esophageal cancer.  The plaintiffs claim that this is an oncological issue.  The plaintiffs assert that Dr. DuCoin is not qualified to testify in the field of oncology for numerous reasons.

First, the plaintiff stated that he was only in his first year of private practice in general surgery at the time of the delayed diagnosis.  Second, the plaintiff claims that he is not fellowship-trained or board certified in surgical oncology.  Third, the plaintiff alleges that Dr. DuCoin admitted that esophageal cancer represents only 10% of his practice.  Fourth, Dr. DuCoin admitted that a patient’s survival rate is determined by a medical oncologist, not a general surgeon.  Fifth, an oncologist determines whether and to what extent a patient receives radiation and chemotherapy.  Last, the literature he reviewed in reaching his conclusions in his expert report is an oncology study.

The Government argues that Dr. DuCoin easily satisfies the standards of Daubert and is qualified to offer standard of care testimony as to the issue of medical causation.  Specifically, the Government argues that Dr. DuCoin has been practicing medicine since April 2015, and that his general surgery residency and two fellowships in minimally invasive surgery involved the care of patients with cancer.

The plaintiffs counter that experience does not make Dr. DuCoin an expert in oncology or pathology.

The court opines that because this case is set for a bench trial, the objectives under Daubert are no longer implicated and the need for pre-trial rulings on the admissibility of evidence is reduced.  Thus, the court rules that the motion to exclude will be denied at this time.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Christopher DuCoin is denied.