Expert Witnesses & Reports – Part 6

In Expert Witnesses and Reports, Manuel Lopez and David Chaumette of Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P. write on expert reports:

By statute, Texas requires expert reports to prosecute various types of lawsuits-most notably medical malpractice lawsuits. This paper will not list every such requirement, but will list a few of these statutes and discuss, in particular, the medical malpractice requirements in some detail.
1. Texas Requires Expert Reports in Medical Malpractice Cases. The most litigated expert report requirement is the one that applies to medical malpractice cases and to other “health care liability claims.” TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN. § 74.351 (Vernon 2005 & Supp. 2006).
a. The Statute Has Strict Requirements and Deadlines. Following major changes in House Bill 4, the current statute, Section 74.351, requires a medical malpractice plaintiff to serve an expert report on each party within 120 days of filing his or her petition, along with a curriculum vitae of each expert. Id. at § 74.351(a). The report should “provide[] a fair summary of the expert’s opinions … regarding [1] applicable standards of care, [2] the manner in which the care rendered by the physician or health care provider failed to meet the standards, and [3] the causal relationship between that failure and the injury, harm, or damages claimed.” Id. at § 74.351(r)(6); see also Id. at § 74.351(j) (“Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the serving of an expert report regarding any issue other than an issue relating to liability or causation.”). If the claimant fails to file a report, the trial court “shall” enter an order dismissing the claim with prejudice and awarding attorney’s fees and costs to the defendant. Id. at § 74.351(b).