Infectious Disease Expert Witness Testimony Not Allowed in Cruise Ship Negligence Case

Overview: Infectious Disease Expert Witness testimony not allowed because of statements made out he knew that the HIV rapid test was approved in Canada and the European Union.

Facts:  This case (Waters v. Celebrity Cruises, Inc. – United States District Court – Southern District of Florida – January 29th, 2024) involves a claim of medical negligence by the plaintiff, who was a passenger on a cruise ship operated by the defendant.  The plaintiff alleges that the defendant was negligent when it breached its standard of care when the plaintiff was infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) when she was given a blood transfusion aboard the ship.  The defendant hired Infectious Disease Expert Witness Jeffrey Klausner, MD to provide expert witness testimony.  The plaintiff filed a motion to exclude this expert witness from providing testimony.

Discussion:  The plaintiff challenged Dr. Klausner’s testimony on two fronts.  First, the plaintiff stated that Dr. Klausner’s testimony that the HIV rapid test MedMira Multiplo HBc/HIV/HCV has been approved by any regulatory body in any country should be excluded on the basis that Dr. Klausner does not have a sufficient basis for this evidence.  When asked about his statements about regulatory approval, he stated that he thought he saw markings on the box that the test was approved in the European Union and believed he saw documents that the test was approved by Canada.  The court granted the plaintiff’s motion to exclude these statements because Dr. Klausner did not have a sufficient basis to offer these expert opinions.

Second, the plaintiff challenged Dr. Klausner’s opinion that he conducted a study in Peru on a different type of HIV rapid test which is materially similar to the one used in this case.  The plaintiff argued that Dr. Klausner’s statement is not based on any data and is not based on reliable principles or data.  The defendant stated that Dr. Klausner’s experience is relevant for him to state his opinion on the similarity between the two tests.  The court opined that this testimony is not reliable and is not helpful to the trier of fact in this case.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Jeffrey Klausner, MD was granted.