Neuropsychology Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Insurance Litigation

Plaintiff sued defendant related to an insurance claim resulting from a motor vehicle accident.  Defendant hired a Neuropsychology Expert Witness to provide testimony.  Plaintiff filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.  The court denied the motion.

Facts:  This case (Barcus v. The Phoenix Insurance Co. – United States District Court – District of Kansas – January 25th, 2019) involves an insurance claim for underinsured motorist benefits.  The plaintiff seeks underinsured benefits from his insurer in connection with a motor vehicle accident.  The plaintiff states that the accident caused a traumatic brain injury, which resulted in vestibular symptoms and permanent cognitive defects.  The defendant hired Dr. Maria Korth (Neuropsychology Expert Witness) to provide testimony on his behalf.

Discussion:  Dr. Korth was hired to opine that the plaintiff did not suffer a traumatic brain injury during the accident and that the plaintiff is no longer experiencing cognitive defects as a result of the accident.

Dr. Korth is a neuropsychologist and one of the plaintiff’s treating providers.  Dr. Korth testifies that she originally diagnosed the plaintiff with post-concussive syndrome but two years later the plaintiff no longer presented in a way that was consistent with post-concussive syndrome.  Dr. Korth also testifies that at the time she discharged the plaintiff, he no longer met the criteria for post-concussive syndrome.

The plaintiff argues that Dr. Korth’s testimony is not reliable.  Specifically, the plaintiff states that Dr. Korth cannot testify on the extent to which the plaintiff’s cognitive defects had subsided because her opinion is speculative and not supported by enough facts or data.

The court states that the opinions offered by Dr. Korth are based on her personal examination, treatment, and cognitive testing of plaintiff.  Thus, the court opines that Dr. Korth is therefore qualified to testify to the opinions formed during her treatment regarding to the extent of his injuries, the cause of the injuries, and her diagnosis.  In addition, the court opines that a treating provider’s opinion should not be rendered unreliable simply because she does not testify about the degree of her certainty.  The court continues by stating that this issue goes to the weight of the evidence and not the admissibility.

Also, the court does not accept the plaintiff’s argument that Dr. Korth cannot opine relate to alternative explanations for the plaintiff’s vestibular symptoms.  Dr. Korth did consider other explanations for the plaintiff’s reported symptoms, but did not give any opinion about the certainty or probability of these causes, but the plaintiff bears the burden to establish with the requisite degree of certainty that his vestibular symptoms ultimately stem from the accident.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Maria Korth is denied.