Orthopedic Surgery Expert Witness Testimony Allowed In Part in Case Involving Spine Injury

Plaintiff filed suit against defendant related to a spine injury.  Plaintiff hired an Orthopedic Surgery Expert Witness to provide testimony.  Defendant filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.  The court granted the motion in part and denied it in part.

Facts:  This case (Wilke v. Transportation Insurance Company – United States District Court – District of Arizona – June 26th, 2019) involves a claim regarding a spine injury.  The plaintiff alleges that he was unable to fill his prescriptions because the defendants denied coverage.  The plaintiff alleges that the defendant’s delay in approving his medication caused his spine to re-herniate.  The plaintiff’s claim is that the defendant breached his duty of good faith and fair dealing when it delayed in approving of the prescriptions. The plaintiff hired Orthopedic Surgery Expert Witness Anthony T. Yeung, M.D. to provide testimony.  The defendant argues that the Dr. Yeung’s testimony should be excluded because it is not reliable nor relevant.

Discussion:  The plaintiff alleges that Dr. Yeung is qualified to testify about medical issues and that his testimony is relevant to the issue of medical causation.

The defendant argues that Dr. Yeung is “not qualified to opine whether Defendant acted reasonably in temporarily denying coverage for Plaintiff’s muscle relaxant prescription.”   The court opines that the plaintiff uses the opinions of Dr. Yeung to rebut the defendant’s evidence about medical causation.  The court also opines that Dr. Yeung will not be allowed to testify about the reasonableness of the defendant’s actions.  The court further notes that Dr. Yeung is an expert in the practice of medicine and not the practices of insurance companies.

In addition, the defendant argues that Dr. Yeung does not have experience in pharmacology.  The plaintiff states that “a medical doctor has sufficient foundation to testify on any medical point as they are granted license to practice in any specialty once they are licensed in Arizona.”

The court opines that Dr. Yeung’s combination of education, training, and experience make him qualified to testify about medical causation.  The court opines that Dr. Yeung is licensed to prescribe medication and possesses specialized knowledge about the effects of medications and is thus qualified to testify about medical causation in this case.

The defendant also alleges that Dr. Yeung’s reports are conclusory and not supported by enough facts or data.  The court opines that Dr. Yeung conducted an extensive review of materials in this case, which is sufficient data to meet the Rule 702 Daubert standard.  The court also opines that defendants may argue their case on this issue during cross-examination.

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