Articles Posted in Experts

A Texas Appellate Court has held that a trial court had not erred in denying a defendant’s motion to dismiss based on a plaintiff expert physician’s failure to perform the procedure at issue in the case within the last 20 years.

Alice Waggoner sued physician Dr. Carl Jones, maintaining that he breached the standard of care by performing an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) before running another noninvasive test to determine whether an ERCP was necessary.

Under Texas law, the plaintiff served the defendant with an expert report by Dr. Perry Hookman, a board-certified physician in both internal medicine and gastroenterology.
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After a fall, John Mitchell, 53, went to a Kaiser Permanente occupational medicine specialist complaining of back pain, numbness and weakness. The doctor prescribed steroids and a muscle relaxer and asked Mitchell to return in one week.

At the next appointment, Mitchell reported increased numbness and weakness in his legs. The doctor referred Mitchell to a Kaiser Permanente emergency room for an MRI of his lumbar spine. The MRI showed mild degenerative changes. Mitchell was referred to a neurologist.

Before the neurology appointment, he met with a Kaiser specialist who ordered a STAT MRI of the thoracic spine. The first available appointment was four days later.
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Ferid Okic’s common bile duct was damaged during a routine gallbladder removal surgery. His injury went undiagnosed for over a month, requiring corrective surgery and significantly delaying Okic’s recovery. Okic sued his surgeon, Dr. Athanasios Diniotias, alleging that both the surgeon negligently performed the surgery and that he was negligent in providing postoperative care.

Most significantly, Okic did not retain an expert qualified to testify regarding the applicable standard of care for performing gallbladder removal surgery.

Just before the beginning of the trial, the trial judge granted several of the defendant’s — Dr. Diniotias’ — motions in limine, including ones barring him from presenting any evidence related to the performance of the surgery because of the absence of expert testimony on this issue. In any event, the jury found against Okic and in favor of Dr. Diniotias and on Okic’s remaining theory of negligence.
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A Texas state appellate court has held that a plaintiff expert’s report was adequate in a case brought by the parents whose child died after receiving inadequate treatment for a respiratory infection. Luz Del Carmen Rodriguez and Victor Velazquez took their infant son to the office of a pediatrician, Dr. Satbir Chhina.

A nurse practitioner diagnosed the baby as having respiratory syncytial virus and prescribed Tylenol and nebulizer treatments. Dr. Chhina later signed off on the treatment plan that was presented to him by the nurse practitioner. However, the next day, the baby became unresponsive. He was transferred to a hospital, where he died of cardio-pulmonary arrest. An autopsy revealed that the child’s death resulted from sepsis originating from a bacterial infection.

Rodriguez and Velazquez sued Dr. Chhina and the nurse practitioner, alleging medical negligence. The plaintiffs offered the expert report of Dr. Armando Correa, a board-certified pediatrician who specialized in pediatric infectious disease.
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After Ernestine Wilson’s 23-year-old son Brian Curry died from a saddle pulmonary embolism (a blood clot that blocked the large pulmonary artery straddling his lungs), she sued emergency room physician Dr. Eric Moon and Chicago’s St. Bernard Hospital. She claimed that the doctor was negligent in choosing not to diagnose and treat her son’s condition and that the hospital was also liable because of its principal-agent relationship with the doctor. Dr. Moon denied negligence and the hospital moved for summary judgment on the ground that the doctor was an independent contractor.

Wilson reached a settlement with the hospital, but at the trial six weeks later, the doctor called the hospital’s retained expert in pulmonary medicine. The witness testified that Brian’s signs and symptoms did not suggest pulmonary embolism and that what subsequently occurred was a sudden and unsurvivable medical condition regardless of the doctor’s efforts.

Dr. Moon generally adopted the hospital’s expert opinions and thus was not required to submit a second 213(f)(3) disclosure containing all of the same information of an earlier disclosure once the hospital settled with Wilson for the plaintiff.
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In August 2013, Alexis Dameron underwent surgery at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center where she claimed to have sustained injuries due to medical negligence. She filed a medical malpractice case against Mercy and various employees at the hospital on Nov. 6, 2014.

During discovery, she disclosed that Dr. David Preston would be testifying as an expert witness, presenting evidence drawn from an electromyogram and EMG study yet to be performed. The EMG was to take place on June 1, 2017, but Dr. Preston’s report was not included in the record.

Dameron moved to designate Dr. Preston a “nontestifying expert consultant,” stating that Dr. Preston’s designation as a testifying expert witness had been “inadvertent.”
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Under the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure Section 2-1009, an Illinois plaintiff is allowed to voluntarily dismiss all or part of a claim without prejudice before a trial or a hearing begins. The statute allows this process upon payment of costs. Related to Section 2-1009 is Illinois Supreme Court Rule 219(e), which states, “A party shall not be permitted to avoid compliance with discovery deadlines, orders or applicable rules by voluntarily dismissing a lawsuit.”

Continuing, Rule 219 says: “In establishing discovery deadlines and ruling on permissible discovery and testimony, the court shall consider discovery undertaken (or the absence of same), any misconduct, and orders entered in prior litigation involving a party. . .”

In the case of Boehle v. OSF Healthcare System, a medical-malpractice lawsuit, the claim was for a failure to diagnose and treat a cancerous growth in the spine of the patient.
The alleged medical negligence led to the death of the plaintiff’s son.
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In this case of medical malpractice, the trial court refused to allow the plaintiff to name a pediatric oncologist as one of her expert witnesses. The plaintiff, Kelli Boehle, used what is called a “strategic voluntary dismissal” in order to name a new additional expert. Right after refiling the case under Section 13-217 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, Boehle listed the same pediatric oncologist that the trial court had originally denied as being tardy.

The defendants relied on Illinois Supreme Court Rule 219(e), which lists a set of authorized consequences for “refusal to comply” with discovery/pretrial rules and orders. They moved to bar Boehle from using the oncologist as an expert in the refiled case.

Although the trial judge denied the motion because Boehle had not engaged in any sanctionable conduct in the first case, the judge certified two questions for immediate review under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 308. Both questions raised to call for yes/no answers focused on whether Rule 219(e) should be interpreted to “prevent Boehle from naming the oncologist as one of her experts in the revived litigation.
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This lawsuit arose out of a wrongful-death and medical malpractice case brought by the plaintiff, Lawanda Freeman. She was the special administrator of the estate of her deceased husband, Terrance Freeman. In her complaint against the defendant, Gayle R. Crays, M.D., she alleged that Dr. Crays was negligent in the treatment of Terrance’s cardiovascular disease and that negligence was the proximate cause of Terrance’s death. Right before the trial was set to start, the trial judge ruled that Freeman’s only expert witness was unqualified to offer any opinions on the issue of causation, thus creating a fatal evidentiary gap in the plaintiff’s case.

In response to the trial judge’s ruling barring this expert witness, Freeman moved to voluntarily dismiss her complaint. The trial judge granted the voluntary dismissal without prejudice.

Shortly thereafter, Freeman refiled her complaint. Upon learning that Freeman intended to disclose an additional or new medical expert witness to offer opinions on the issue of causation, Dr. Crays’ lawyers moved to adopt the rulings from the earlier case and bar any testimony of plaintiff’s newly disclosed expert opinion pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 219(e).
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The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed a jury’s $7.9 million general verdict against a physician, Dr. Yasser Alhaj-Hussein, who did a celiac plexus block procedure on one of his patients, Kathy Arient. The procedure was performed at Orland Park Surgical Center. After the procedure, Arient experienced numbness in her legs and was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chicago Heights, Ill., where it was determined that she had experienced a vasospasm resulting in her paraplegia.

About two and a half months later, Arient and her husband, Terry Arient, filed a lawsuit against Dr. Hussein for medical malpractice and loss of consortium. Kathy died on June 9, 2014 of a stroke and Terry was substituted as the executor of Kathy’s estate. The lawsuit was amended to allege wrongful death and survival actions, including the medical negligence count of the lawsuit.

At the jury trial, Arient introduced a motion in limine, seeking to bar the defendants from introducing evidence of or making any reference to Kathy’s history of smoking. Dr. Hussein and his lawyers argued that the smoking habit was a link to being extremely opiate tolerant. In fact, it was argued that Kathy’s smoking habit was a reason Dr. Hussein felt the need to administer a celiac plexus block to relieve her chronic pain. Opiates and implanted pumps had not been effective in controlling her pain. The trial judge granted that motion to exclude smoking.
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