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Georgia Finds Admission by Organization in Malpractice Case Properly Excluded Because It Was Not Properly Admitted as Expert Opinion

In a recent case, Yugueros v. Robles, Georgia’s Supreme Court decided whether a party’s admission could be admitted even though it did not meet the requirements for an expert opinion.

Case BooksFacts of the Case

A woman received liposuction, buttock augmentation, and abdominoplasty surgery from a plastic surgeon in 2009. Shortly afterward, she experienced abdominal pain and went to an emergency room. The hospital did not figure out the cause of her pain and released her. The woman’s pain increased, and her husband contacted the plastic surgeon. The plastic surgeon examined her and ordered tests, one of which showed air in her abdomen. The woman died several hours later. The woman’s husband sued the plastic surgeon, the medical practice where she had the surgery done, and others for malpractice.

The man served a notice of deposition to the medical practice, requesting to depose, or question, its representative. Under Georgia statute OCGA 9-11-30(b)(6), an organization can designate a representative to answer questions for the organization in a deposition. The practice designated its founder and owner, who was a doctor herself. In the deposition, the attorney asked the owner if ordering a CT scan would have been part of the standard of care, given her understanding of the case. The owner answered that it would have been and explained some details concerning the appropriate care in the plaintiff’s case.

The plaintiff’s husband wanted to use the statement at trial to show that the standard of care had not been followed in this case, just as the owner herself stated. The medical practice filed a motion to have this testimony excluded. It argued that to include the testimony, the plaintiff had to meet the requirements for expert testimony under Georgia’s statute OCGA 24-7-702. It argued that here, the owner was not provided all of the information necessary to form an opinion and thus could not testify as an expert. The trial court excluded the testimony. The case went to trial, and the jury found in favor of the defendants. The court of appeals then reversed the decision, finding it should have been admitted as an admission by the organization. The case was appealed again to the Supreme Court.

The Issue on Appeal

The question for the court was whether the trial court was correct in concluding that testimony from an organizational representative in a deposition could be admitted without consideration of expert testimony rules. Georgia’s Supreme Court reversed again, concluding that the testimony was properly excluded.

The Holding of the Case

The court found that even though the statement may have been a party admission, the court had to also consider other rules of evidence. Since the expert testimony statute was relevant in this case, the trial court was correct in considering it. Even though the testimony was taken during the deposition of a party’s representative, the statement still had to be considered under the rules for expert testimony. As a result, the trial court properly considered the expert testimony rules and excluded the statement because it did not meet the requirements to admit expert testimony.

Contact an Atlanta Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured by a doctor or another medical professional, you may be entitled to compensation. Do not let doctors who provide substandard care get away with placing your livelihood in jeopardy. The time to act is now. At McAleer Law, we have a team of attorneys who focus on personal injury claims, and we are dedicated to providing our clients with passionate and zealous representation to pursue the results they deserve. Contact us at 404-622-5337 or online to set up a free consultation.

See More Posts:

Government’s Failure to Modify Roads to Prevent Hydroplaning Can Pose Increased Risk for Drivers, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, November 8, 2016.

Woman Fails to File Expert Affidavit in Medical Malpractice Claim but Able To Proceed Regardless, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, November 17, 2016.