Plaintiff sued defendant after tripping and falling after his leg became caught in a drainage hole. Defendant hired an Orthopedic Surgery Expert Witness to provide testimony on their behalf. Plaintiff filed a motion to exclude this expert witness testimony, which was granted in part and denied in part by the court
Facts: This case (Thomas v. W & T Offshore Inc. – United States District Court – Eastern District of Louisiana – September 18th, 2018) involves a trip and fall claim. The plaintiff alleges that he tripped and fell after his boot became caught in a drainage hole on a tension leg platform owned by the by the defendant. The plaintiff claims that he suffered injuries to his left knee and lumbar spine. The defendant hired Dr. Christopher Cenac, Sr (Orthopedic Surgery Expert Witness) to provide testimony on their behalf. The plaintiff has filed a motion to exclude this testimony.
Discussion: The plaintiff argues that Dr. Cenac’s testimony should be excluded because it is laden with conclusions that are not related to any evidence as well as prejudicial factual allegations which are outside his scope of expertise. The plaintiff specifically argues that Dr. Cenac’s opinions that the Plaintiff has not been truthful with numerous health care professionals and has drug seeking behavior. The plaintiff further argues that Dr. Cenac is an orthopedic surgeon and thus does not have the expertise on chemical and substance abuse, truthfulness of witnesses, or drug seeking behavior. Last, the plaintiff argues that the probative value of Dr. Cenac’s testimony is outweighed by a high risk of unfair prejudice.
The defendant argues that Dr. Cenac’s opinions on the plaintiff’s alleged drug use, drug seeking behavior, and untruthfulness are highly probative to the plaintiff’s motivation for bringing the lawsuit. In addition, the defendant argues that Dr. Cenac is qualified to offer an opinion on these issues because he is a medical doctor and he regularly has to ascertain whether a patient’s subjective complaints are supported by objective evidence. Last, the defendant states that Dr. Cenac bases his report on objective evidence.
The court opines that, the limited probative value of the testimony is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. In addition, the court finds that the jury will be tasked with drawing any inferences it may wish from the evidence. Thus, Dr. Cenac’s opinions on the plaintiff’s alleged use of drugs, drug-seeking behavior, and untruthfulness are excluded. It is therefore not necessary to determine whether Dr. Cenac is qualified to render these opinions.
The plaintiff argues that Dr. Cenac’s references to the plaintiff’s personal life should be excluded. The defendant argues that this information should not be excluded because asking for such information is a regular part of an overall examination of the patient. The court agrees with the defendant and will not exclude this testimony.
Conclusion: The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Christopher Cenac is denied in part and granted in part.