Neurology Expert Witness Testimony Allowed

Plaintiff filed lawsuit against defendant related to a personal injury claim on a vessel owned by the defendant. Defendant hired a Neurology Expert Witness to provide testimony.  Plaintiff filed a motion to exclude the testimony of this expert.  The court denied the motion to exclude.

Facts:  This case (Parker v. John W. Stone Oil Distributors, LLC – United States District Court – Eastern District of Louisiana – October 16th, 2019) involves a personal injury claim.  The plaintiff, Jeremy A. Parker, claims that he sustained injuries while working as a tankerman on a vessel owned by the defendant John W. Stone Oil Distributors LLC.  The plaintiff alleges that a crew member pulled on a face wire, which caused a line to pop, and that resulted in a 10-pound shackle to fall and hit the plaintiff in the head.  The plaintiff alleges that this incident caused injuries to his neck and head, rendering him unfit for duty as a seaman.  The defendant has hired Dr. Archie Melcher (Neurology Expert Witness) to provide testimony.  The plaintiff has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The plaintiff argues that Dr. Melcher’s testimony should be excluded as to the contents of the plaintiff’s medical records for a prior injury.  The court notes that it appears that in 2008, the plaintiff sustained an orbital fracture from a separate incident.  The plaintiff thinks that the defendant will argue that the prior event caused the plaintiff’s current injuries rather than the incident that is the center of this case.  The plaintiff argues that Dr. Melcher will merely regurgitate the medical records for the prior injury.

The plaintiff argues that this type of testimony is inadmissible because it contains “classic hearsay” and is not relevant to this case.  The defendant retorts that evidence of the plaintiff’s prior injuries is definitely relevant to this case.

The court opines that the plaintiff seems more concerned with the bases for Dr. Melcher’s testimony rather than the actual records he used to form his opinions.  Thus, the court opines that it declines to rule on the issue at this time and, since the objections are context-specific, the plaintiff should raise an objection at trial.

The court also opines that the prior injury to the plaintiff may be relevant to prove causation.  The court opines that the plaintiff appears to be arguing that the two injuries he suffered are so unrelated that could not possibly be relevant to the injury at the center of this case.  The court again opines that this argument is contextual and the plaintiff should bring it up during trial.

In addition, if the plaintiff would like to challenge the defendant’s theories about the two prior injuries, he can do so during cross-examination.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Archie Melcher is denied.