Ophthalmology Expert Witness Testimony Allowed In Part

Plaintiff filed suit against defendants related to an alleged injury while in prison.  Plaintiff hired an Ophthalmology Expert Witness to provide testimony.  Defendant filed a motion to exclude this expert witness testimony.  The court granted the motion in part and denied it in part.

Facts:  This case (Montanez v. Trost – United States District Court – Southern District of Illinois – June 20th, 2019) involves an alleged injury inside a prison.  The plaintiff alleges that he was injured after an incident in the prison and filed this lawsuit against the defendants.  The plaintiff has hired Ophthalmology Expert Witness David Yoo, M.D. to provide expert witness testimony.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Yoo.

Discussion: Dr. Yoo was hired by the plaintiff to provide an opinion about Montanez’s medical injuries.  The defendants allege that Dr. Yoo is not qualified to provide testimony on the standard of care for a primary care physician.  In addition, the defendants argue that Dr. Yoo’s opinions are not supported by the record and that he has made improper legal conclusions suggesting that the defendant, “created or conduced a policy or practice that resulted in insufficient or inadequate healthcare.”

The court notes that Dr. Yoo is an ophthalmic surgeon whose practice involves patients who have had trauma and cancers around the eyes as well as other ophthalmic conditions.  In addition, the court states that he is board certified in the field of ophthalmology and thus is qualified as an expert in that field.

The court states that Do. Yoo has admitted that he is not a primary care physician or utilization management physician.  Thus, the court opines that he is therefore not qualified to render an opinion on the standard of care for those physicians.  He is, however, qualified to testify whether the defendants’ treatment of the plaintiff adversely impacted the plaintiffs ophthalmic issues and contributed to his ongoing pain.

The defendants argue that Dr. Yoo’s opinions are improper legal conclusions.  The court agrees that some of Dr. Yoo’s opinions are in fact legal conclusions and will not be able to testify that the plaintiff’s conditions constituted a “serious medical need”

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of David Yoo, M.D. is granted in part and denied in part.