Preventive Medicine Expert Witness Excluded; Vocational Evaluation & Rehabilitation and Economics Expert Witness Allowed

Plaintiff sued defendants in this medical malpractice case, stating that the defendants did not properly treat the defendant while in the emergency room.  The plaintiff hired three expert witnesses and the defendant filed motions to exclude.  The court granted one motion and denied two.

Facts:  This case (J.B. v. Missouri Baptist Hospital of Sullivan et al – United States District Court – Eastern District of Missouri – January 12th, 2018) involves a medical malpractice claim.  The plaintiff, J.B., a minor though his Next Friend, alleges that the defendants did not properly treat J.B.’s leg wound when being treated in the emergency department of Missouri Baptist Hospital of Sullivan (MBHS).  To assist in the case, the plaintiff hired three expert witnesses:  1)  Dr. John Hughes (preventive medicine expert witness) , (2) Delores Gonzalez (vocational evaluation & rehabilitation expert witness) and (3) Brooke Liggett (economics expert witness).  The defendants have filed motions to exclude the testimony of these experts.

Discussion:  The defendants argue that Dr. Hughes’ testimony related to plaintiff’s functional capacity should be excluded.  They state that the language used by Dr. Hughes was speculative and vague.  In addition, they claim that Dr. Hughes did not perform the functional capacity testing needed to form a reliable opinion.  The plaintiffs argue that these arguments should go to the weight of the evidence, not the admissibility.  The court agreed with the defendants, stating that his opinions on the plaintiff’s ability to stand and walk is speculative and he should have conducted a functional capacity evaluation.

Second, the defendants argue that Ms. Gonzalez’s opinion on the vocational capacity of the plaintiff should be excluded because it is unreliable, speculative, is not based on enough facts or evidence , and will not be helpful to the jury.  They claim that Ms. Gonzalez bases her opinion on Dr. Hughes’ report and should thus be excluded.  The plaintiff notes that Ms. Gonzalez is allowed to rely on the admissible evidence of a medical doctor.  The plaintiff also notes that Ms. Gonzalez performed an extensive evaluation, relying on numerous resources.  The court sided with the plaintiff, stating that the conclusions in her report was based on interviews she had with the plaintiff as well as her examination of medical records, medical history, and education achievement test results.

Last, the defendants state that Ms. Liggett’s testimony should be excluded because she relied on the opinions of Ms. Gonzalez and state that Ms. Liggett’s testimony is based on two levels of speculation, because Ms.  Gonzalez relied on Dr. Hughes’ opinion.  The court disagreed, stating that Ms. Liggett’s opinion should not be excluded because she relied on Ms. Gonzalez’s testimony, which the court has already allowed.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. John Hughes is granted.  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Delores Gonzalez and Brooke Liggett is denied.