Obstetrics & Gynecology (OB/GYN) Expert Witness Testimony Excluded in Pregnancy Litigation

Summary: Obstetrics & Gynecology (OB/GYN) Expert Witness testimony not allowed even though the expert testified that his opinion on the injuries were based on his own experience and expertise.

Facts:  This case (RASCHELLE GOFF V KAREN L NIVER MD – State of Michigan – Court of Appeals – June 18th, 2019) involves a medical malpractice claim.  The plaintiff argues that during the birth of her baby, she suffered three injuries.  The plaintiff sued the defendant doctor and hospital alleging that the doctor violated the standard of case by not recognizing and surgically repairing a sphincter tear and retrovaginal tear following the delivery of her baby.  The plaintiff hired Obstetrics & Gynecology (OB/GYN) Expert Witness Dr. Robert Dein to provide testimony on her behalf.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Dein.  The lower court granted the motion to exclude.  This is the appeal.

Discussion:  In the lower court, Dr. Dein opined that the doctor’s care for the plaintiff fell below the standard of care and that his opinion was based on his own experience and expertise, not on any scientific literature or studies.  In addition, the plaintiff didn’t cite to any scientific literature or studies to support Dein’s opinion.

The current court notes that Dein testified that the breach of the standard of care was the cause of the plaintiff’s ongoing impairment.  During the lower court testimony, Dr. Dein stated that he was relying on his own expertise and experience as the basis for his opinion and not on scientific literature and studies.  In addition, another expert witness stated that there is no data to support the opinion “that a delay of three or four weeks before performing the repair surgery
would result in an increased risk of incomplete recovery.”

The plaintiff states that there are no studies to support Dein’s opinion that the delay in plaintiff’s treatment slowed down the odds of her fully recovering  because to conduct such a study would not be ethical.  The court opines that the plaintiff did not bring to the forefront any data to support Dr. Dein’s testimony in any regard.  In fact, the plaintiff didn’t provide any data to support any of the underlying propositions.

The court opines that it is not enough to rely only on an expert’s experience and background to argue that the expert’s opinion is reliable.  Thus, there is not evidence that the trial court’s opinion was “outside the range of reasonable
and principled outcomes.”

Conclusion:  The opinion of the lower court excluding the expert witness testimony of Dr. Robert Dein is affirmed.