Neurosurgery Expert Witness Testimony Allowed

Plaintiff filed suit against defendant after she was allegedly injured during a car accident.  The defendants hired a Neurosurgery Expert Witness to provide expert testimony.  The plaintiff filed a motion to exclude this testimony.  The court denied the motion.

Facts:  This case (Reagan et al v. CRC Transport, LLC et al – United States District Court – Eastern District of Missouri – November 13th, 2018) involves a personal injury claim that stems from an automobile accident.  The plaintiff alleges that her cervical spine was injured and her pre-existing lower back condition was aggravated because of the crash.  The plaintiff alleges that the crash was caused by the defendant’s excessive speed in bad weather conditions.  The defendants hired Neurosurgery Expert Witness Dr. Sarah Fouke to provide testimony on her behalf.  The plaintiff has filed a motion to exclude the expert’s testimony.

Discussion:  Dr. Fouke opines that plaintiff’s condition is a cervical strain and not a disc herniation.  In addition, she attributed the plaintiff’s pain to degeneration and not the crash.  Regarding the present motion, she explained that 1) her management of a patient like the plaintiff would not have included surgical intervention; 2) she does not typically perform spinal fusions for axial pain in the absence of a structural pathology or clear instability; 3) she would have wanted a more conservative approach and not surgical intervention; and 4) her practice does not include the performance of routine discograms.

The plaintiff argues that Dr. Fouke’s individual practices are speculative, irrelevant, and confusing to the jury.  The plaintiff points to three state law cases in support of her position that the statements are not admissible, but the court finds that these cases are not instructive.

The court opines that Dr. Fouke’s statements come from her personal experience treating patients that are similar to the plaintiff.  The court opines that Dr. Fouke’s personal experience supports the reliability of her testimony and informs her opinions on the cause and severity of the plaintiff’s injuries.  Thus, her opinions are admissible on this point.

The court also opines that Dr. Fouke’s explanations comport with her professional conclusion as to the severity of the Plaintiff’s neck injury.  The court opinions that these are matters that go beyond the juror’s common knowledge and that Dr. Fouke’s testimony would assist the trier of fact on these issues.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Sarah Fouke is denied.