Portions of Urology Expert Witness Testimony Challenged

Prisoner with kidney stones sued a nurse who refused to see him, after complaining of severe pain.  The defense hired an expert in urology and the plaintiff challenged certain portions of this testimony.

Facts: In this case (Homaidan Al-Turki v. Mary Susan Robinson, RN – United States District Court – District Of Colorado – October 27th, 2015), the plaintiff, a prison inmate, sued a nurse for violating his Eighth amendment rights by refusing him, despite the fact that he was in severe pain. The defendant hired Dr. Brian J. Flynn, a urology expert witness, to opine on certain matters related to kidney stones.  The plaintiff filed a motion to exclude five pieces of Dr. Flynn’s testimony:  1) The chemical composition and small nature of the kidney stone that was passed; 2) That kidney stones were not life-threatening and didn’t cause any physical damage; 3) There was no need for the defendant to go to the ER as there was no recommended treatment beyond Ibuprofen; 4) The wait time at the hospital would have been 4-6 hours; 5) Most patients with kidney stones will pass them without any intervention from medical staff.

Discussion:  First, the plaintiff argues that the size and chemical composition of the stone passed should be excluded because the stone could have broken and he may have passed another stone.  He also states that this statement should be irrelevant,  as the size and chemical makeup of the stone does not relate to the severity of the pain that is at issue in this case.  The court disagreed with this analysis, stating there was no evidence to dispute it.  In addition, these disputes are factual that a jury should be deciding and is not a relevant discussion at the present time.

Second, the plaintiff argues that the testimony stating that the kidney stones weren’t life threatening should be excluded because they are irrelevant and would be confusing to the jury.  He states that these statements may wrongly suggest that these consequences are necessary to prove his eighth amendment claims.  The court disagreed, stating that this evidence is relevant and that the jury will be well versed in what is needed to prove an eighth amendment claim.

Third, the plaintiff argues that Dr. Flynn is not qualified to opine on whether or not he would have needed to go to the ER.  In addition, he states that this testimony does not relate to the present case in that he never stated that he need to go to the ER after feeling pain.  The court disagreed with the plaintiff, stating that Dr. Flynn is qualified to opine on these matters as he has, in the past, treated patients with kidney stones in the ER.  However, Dr. Flynn’s opinion that the plaintiff did not need to be seen in the prison by a medical provider should be excluded as he does not have experience as a medical provider in a prison facility.

Fourth, the plaintiff states that the testimony on wait time in the ER is not relevant as he is not an ER doctor and it is not relevant to the present case.  The court agreed with the plaintiff and stated that this testimony should be excluded.

Last, the plaintiff asks that the testimony related to passing kidney stones without the need to medical intervention is not pertinent to this case in that this opinion is only relevant to those individuals with a chronic history of kidney stones, which doesn’t include the plaintiff.   The court agreed somewhat, stating that the plaintiff can not testify with respect to patients with a chronic history of kidney stones, but may testify on general experiences of patients with kidney stones.

Held:  The court excluded some pieces of the motion and allowed others.