Psychology Expert Witness Testimony Not Allowed

Plaintiff sued defendant related to a discrimination action.  The plaintiff hired a Psychology Expert Witness to provide testimony.  The defendants filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.  The court granted the motion to exclude.

Facts:  This case (El Ansari v. New York Presbyterian Hospital et al – United States District Court – Southern District of New York – August 5th, 2019) involves alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Administrative Code of the City of New York, and New York state laws.  The plaintiff alleges that she was discriminated against while she was employed by the defendant, which caused her to develop depression and anxiety.  The plaintiff has hired Dr. Yaakov Siegel (Psychology Expert Witness) to provide expert testimony.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The court notes that Dr. Siegel is qualified by his educational background, training, and experience to provide an opinion in this case.  The court notes that he is a licensed psychologist with advanced degrees and training in psychology and has experience treating patients who suffer from depression and anxiety disorders.  The defendants argue that Dr. Siegel does not have any training or experience in forensic psychology which can be applied to the employment law context.

The court opines that such a narrow view of Dr. Siegel’s qualifications are not needed, as long as he has qualifications in the general field of psychology.

The court, however, does find that Dr. Siegel’s opinion is based on unreliable data and methodology with respect to his diagnosis that the plaintiff suffers from a major depressive disorder with anxious distress and his conclusions that the defendants’ treatment of the plaintiff caused these conditions.

The court opines that Dr. Siegel’s opinion that the plaintiff suffers from major depressive disorder with anxious distress is not reliable because of the gaps between the DSM-V guidelines that he purported to follow and his diagnosis.  The court opines that Dr. Siegel did not review any of the plaintiff’s medical records, nor did he make any effort to contact the plaintiff’s medical providers.

The court opines that plaintiff’s lay judgment about what constitutes her relevant medical history was generally accepted at face value by Dr. Siegel, who made no effort to corroborate any of the information that the plaintiff gave during the interview.

The court also opines that Dr. Siegel, in his report, did not provide any analysis  to show how the DSM-V guidelines were applied to reach the diagnosis.  In addition, the court also opines that Dr. Siegel does not offer any indication of which symptoms the plaintiff exhibited.

Also, the court opines that Dr. Siegel’s conclusion that the defendants caused the plaintiff’s depression and anxiety is also not reliable because he did not address alternative causes, including postpartum depression.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Yaakov Siegel is granted.