Orthopedic Surgery Expert Witness Testimony Not Allowed

Plaintiff filed suit against the defendants after he was allegedly injured after being pulled over.  The plaintiff hired an Orthopedic Surgery Expert Witness to provide testimony.  The defendants filed a motion to exclude this testimony, which was granted by the court.

Facts:  This case (LOPEZ v. CITY OF PLAINFIELD et al – United States District Court – District of New Jersey – January 3rd, 2018) involves injuries sustained after defendant police officers pulled over the plaintiff in his vehicle.  The plaintiff alleges that the defendant injured his right shoulder and left hand while pulling him out of the vehicle and handcuffing him.  In order to prove his case, the plaintiff hired Orthopedic Surgery Expert Witness, Franklin Chen, M.D. to provide expert witness testimony on his behalf.  The defendants have filed a motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Chen.

Discussion: Dr. Chen opines that the plaintiff’s alleged thumb pain began after the incident with the police and therefore concludes that his injuries are a direct result of that encounter.  However, the only support that he provides for this conclusion is that it based on examination of the plaintiff and history obtained by him.  In addition, Dr. Chen notes that the plaintiff’s wrist pain is consistent with a compression of the nerve which can occur from tight handcuffs, but he does not opine in this report that the alleged wrist pain was caused by the manner in which the plaintiff was handcuffed.

The court opines that Dr. Chen’s testimony is not reliable under Daubert, not does it “fit” the aspects of the present case.  The court notes that there is a three year gap between when he reports are dated and the date of the motor vehicle encounter and that it is problematic in this case because Dr. Chen states that the plaintiff had prior injuries.  In addition, Dr. Chen does not describe any medical techniques, methods, or procedures that he executed to form the basis of his conclusions.  Thus, the court opines that the reports of Dr. Chen are not reliable.

The court also opines that Dr. Chen’s expert witness testimony does not fit the facts of the case.  Dr. Chen opines that within a reasonable degree of probability, the thumb pain resulted from the incident with the police, however, this statement is not supported anything specific within the report.  The court opines that Dr. Chen does not explain what aspects of the plaintiff’s past history he examines, nor does he explain why the thumb pain does not result from his previous injury.  Regarding the wrist pain, Dr. Chen does not provide any specific methodology, procedure, or medical basis for his findings that the handcuffs caused the pain.  Thus, the court rules that the testimony does not fit the facts of the case.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Franklin Chen, M.D is granted.