In many Georgia medical malpractice cases, the testimony of at least one expert witness is required to establish certain elements of the claim. Thus, the selection and presentation of expert witness testimony is crucial. In order to be admissible, an expert’s opinion must be reliable. In Georgia, this means that the expert’s testimony “is the product of reliable principles and methods” and that the expert “applied the methods reliably to the facts” of the case.
A recent Georgia medical malpractice case illustrates the consequences of presenting an expert witness whose testimony is not admitted by the trial judge.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was a mother who gave birth to a son who began to have seizures shortly after he was born. Subsequent testing revealed that the infant suffered from ischemic brain injury. The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendants, who provided the plaintiff with medical care during labor.
In support of her claim, the plaintiff presented the testimony of an OB/GYN. The expert’s opinion was that the plaintiff’s son’s injuries were caused by the manner in which he was delivered. However, the expert was primarily a researcher and had not delivered babies in more than a decade.
The defendants objected to the introduction of the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony on the basis that the methods the expert used in forming his opinion had not been reliably tested or peer reviewed, and they were not generally accepted in the scientific community. The defendants pointed to the expert’s own publication, which stated that the methods he used were against the “prevailing” view in the medical community. The defendant also noted that the expert had never diagnosed any patient with this specific type of injury before.
The trial court determined that the expert’s testimony was not admissible and thereafter granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the plaintiff was unable to establish causation without any admissible expert testimony on the issue. The plaintiff appealed.
The appellate court agreed with the defendant, affirming the lower court’s ruling to keep the expert’s testimony out of trial. The court explained that the lower court was proper to consider the expert’s own admission that the methods he used in making the diagnosis were not generally accepted in the medical community. From there, the court again agreed with the defendant that summary judgment was appropriate, given the plaintiff’s inability to establish causation.
Have You Been a Victim of Medical Malpractice?
If you or a loved one has recently been provided with inadequate medical care, resulting in a serious injury, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Georgia personal injury lawsuit. The dedicated personal injury attorneys at McAleer Law have extensive experience assisting victims with pursuing their claims against negligent doctors, nurses, and hospitals. We represent clients across the state, and our offices are conveniently located in Decatur. Call 404-622-5337 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.
See More Posts:
Georgia Court Permits Plaintiffs to Add Defendant and Amend Expert Affidavit Beyond Statute of Limitations, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, September 25, 2017.
Court Excludes Key Witness at Trial Due to Plaintiff’s Failure to Identify Witness Before Trial, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, September 27, 2017.