Life Care Planning and Forensic Accounting Expert Witness Excluded

Plaintiff filed suit against defendant due to injuries he sustained while using a tree stand distributed by the defendant.  The plaintiff hired a life care planning expert witness and a forensic accounting expert witness to provide testimony on his behalf.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude the testimony of these experts.  The court granted the motion to exclude.

Facts:  This case (Jordan Queen v. W.I.C., Inc. d/b/a Sniper Treestands – United States District Court – Southern District of Illinois – September 5th, 2017) involves an injury sustained by the plaintiff (Queen) while utilizing a tree stand distributed by the defendant (Sniper). Queen alleges that he was standing on the stand’s ladder when it bent and caused him to fall.  Queen reputedly incurred medical expenses and lost wages, which will continue due to the weakening  condition of his right leg and ankle.  In order to help prove his case, Queen hired Santo Steven BiFulco, M.D. (life care planning expert witness) and Karen Grossman Tabak (forensic accounting expert witness).  Sniper filed a motion to exclude the testimony of these two witnesses.

Discussion: The court ruled that Dr. BiFulco is qualified to offer an expert opinion as a life care planner.  However, the court also found that his methodology and reasoning were based on subjective belief and unsupported speculation.  To that point, the Sniper argued that BiFulco’s opinions relied on his own assessment of Queen, rather than one prepared by his treating physicians.  BiFulco also fails to follow any standard that would allow a psychiatrist to provide opinions regarding Queen’s surgical and orthopedic needs.  In addition, Dr. BiFulco opined that Queen required numerous medical treatments that were not recommended by any of his treating physicians.  In fact, BiFulco never spoke to Queen’s treating physicians.

Regarding reliability, BiFulco failed to conduct any scientific experiments  or tests and there is no indication that his methods have been generally accepted in the scientific community.  In addition, Dr. BiFulco does not indicate that his methodology has been peer-reviewed.  Also, Dr. BiFulco could not estimate the percentage of the plan that was prepared by his nurse practitioner, Ashley Literski, who has not been qualified as an expert in this case.  Last, the court opined that the cost valuation opinion based on the previously excluded recommended treatments also lack a proper foundation, are scientifically unreliable, and should be excluded.

Sniper also sought to exclude the expert witness testimony of Karen Grossman Tabak, arguing that her opinions are based solely on the already excluded opinions of BiFulco and Ashley Literski.  In addition, Sniper argues that Tabak did not independently analyze the costs that BiFulco and Literski attributed to the life care plan.  The court agreed with Sniper by concluding that since BiFulco’s testimony was excluded, it follows that Tabsk’s testimony should be excluded as well.

Conclusion:  Sniper’s motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Santo Steven BiFulco, M.D. and Karen Grossman Tabak was granted.