Radiology Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Insurance Company Policy Litigation

Summary:  Radiology Expert Witness testimony is allowed despite the defendant’s claims that the expert witnesses causation theory that the accident caused a subarachnoid hemorrhage is not supported by empirical evidence.

Facts:  This case (Ortiz v. ReliaStar Life Ins. – United States District Court – Eastern District of Texas – February 17th, 2022) involves a claim against an insurance company for a denial of benefits related to a vehicle accident.  The plaintiff’s husband passed away on April 13th, 2018 after he was rear-ended while they were at a red light.  Ortiz’s husband, William, asked his sons not to tell his wife, Shemily, about the accident as he did not want her to be upset.  The next morning, William was taken to the hospital, where Shemily learned about the accident.  A CT scan revealed that William had a subarachnoid hemorrhage (“SAH”) and a radiologist diagnosed him with “ruptured flow related aneurysm related to [arteriovenous malformation (‘AVM’)]”.  William subsequently passed away from the SAH.  ReliaStar denied Shemily’s insurance claim as the policy excludes loss directly or indirectly caused by a physical illness, namely the AVM.  The plaintiff hired Radiology Expert Witness Sina Meisamy, M.D. to provide expert testimony.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude this testimony.

Discussion:  Dr. Meisamy has stated that he plans to testify about two theories that could explain the cause of William’s death.  First, he will testify as to a direct cause theory and second, to an indirect cause theory.

Dr. Meisamy first opined that the trauma caused by the accident directly caused the SAH that killed him.  The defendant claims that Dr. Meisamy has not provided any empirical evidence or medical literature to support his opinion.  The court opines that Dr. Meisamy did not rely only on the fact that he is a medical professional to provide a basis for his conclusions.  The court notes that Dr. Meisamy is qualified to provide expert testimony in this case and relied on scientific reasoning to support his opinions.  Thus, any attack on this part of Dr. Meisamy’s opinion is best done during cross examination.

In addition, the defendant claims that Dr. Meisamy’s indirect cause theory is medically flawed, not supported by studies, and would not help the trier of fact in this case. The court opines that these arguments as well belong to the weight and credibility of the testimony, and not the admissibility.  In addition, the court states that Dr. Meisamy’s indirect cause theory will be helpful to a jury.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Sina Meisamy, M.D. is denied.