Pathology Expert Witness Testimony Not Allowed in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Summary: Plaintiff hired a Pathology Expert Witness to provide testimony in case related to a death from acute sepsis.

Facts:  This case (Hubble et al v. Macomb, County of et al – United States District Court – Eastern District of Michigan – April 23rd, 2019) involves the death of a woman who died as a result of acute sepsis while service a thirty-day sentence on an outstanding bench warrant at the Macomb County Jail.  Her estate has filed suit against the defendants alleging that they caused the woman’s death by being deliberately indifferent to her medical needs, thus violating her rights under the Eighth Amendment to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.  The plaintiff has hired Dr. L.J. Dragovic (Pathology Expert Witness) to provide testimony.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The defendants do no question that Dr. Dragovic is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, and education to offer an opinion on forensic pathology.  They do challenge Dr. Dragivic’s opinion as being nothing but generalities and maxims.  Specifically, the defendants challenge Dr. Dragovic’s testimony regarding 1) alleged constitutional rights; 2) Jail policies and procedures; and 3) causation.

First, the court notes that the plaintiff makes it clear that Dr. Dragovic has no intention of offering an opinion on the constitutionality of any of the defendant’s conduct in this case.  The court follows up by stating that experts are precluded from offering opinions that embrace the ultimate legal issues to be decided by the trier of fact.

The court also opines that there does not seem to be any real argument that Dr. Dragovic is not an expert in jail procedures and should not opine on jail standard operating procedures or the scope of the jail staff’s job duties.

In addition, the defendants seek to exclude the expert opinions of Dr. Dragovic as unreliable.  They argue that Dr. Dragovic’s opinion that the plaintiff’s infectious disease was developing over a period of days/weeks during her incarceration should be excluded on reliability grounds.  The defendants also argue that Dr. Dragovic supports his opinion with insufficient facts or data, and does not cite to any reliable principles or methods to support his statement.  They also ague that Dr. Dragovic does not reliably apply those principles to the facts of this case.

The court last opines that Dr. Dragovic does not provide a scientific or medical foundation to support his opinion.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. L.J. Dragovic is granted.