Verdict in Favor of Surgeon Reversed Because of Error in Admitting Expert Testimony

Mariam Toraish, as the administrator of her deceased five-year-old son Adam’s estate, filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against James J. Lee, M.D., and his practice. Dr. Lee had done a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy surgery on Adam, who died that same day from cardiac arrhythmia.

Toraish’s complaint alleged that Adam was at a high risk for postoperative respiratory difficulties and that Dr. Lee violated the applicable standard of care by choosing not to order that he be monitored overnight following surgery.

During jury trial, the trial court allowed the expert testimony of Simeon Boyd, M.D., a board-certified pediatric geneticist, who gave an opinion that Adam likely died of “cardiac arrest due to Brugada syndrome.”

The jury returned a verdict in favor of Dr. Lee and his practice. The state Supreme Court reversed, holding that Dr. Boyd’s testimony should not have been admitted because it was based upon an assumption that had no basis in fact. The case was remanded for a new trial.

At the trial on cross-examination, Dr. Boyd testified that he was not a forensic pathologist, toxicologist, cardiologist or otolaryngologist. When asked about the postoperative respiratory failure, Dr. Boyd said he was not qualified to give an opinion on that. He said that he relied on the expertise of other physicians to come up with his opinions. The trial court allowed this testimony, but plainly Dr. Boyd’s testimony should not have been heard by the jury and thus the principal reason for the reversal of the verdict.

Toraish v. Lee, No. 160495, Supreme Court of Virginia, April 13, 2017.

Kreisman Law Offices has been representing individuals, families and loved ones for more than 40 years in cases involving medical malpractice, wrongful death, traumatic brain injuries, misdiagnosis of diseases, illnesses and injuries, birth trauma litigation, nursing home abuse cases and hospital negligence cases, representing clients in jury trials in Chicago, Cook County and surrounding communities and counties including Hickory Hills, Darien, Willowbrook, Bedford Park, Schiller Park, Elk Grove Village, Chicago (Little Italy, North Park, Norwood Park, Ravenswood Manor, Sheffield, Roseland, UIC, University of Chicago, West Town, Gladstone Park, Edgebrook, Bucktown, Bronzeville, Lincoln Park, McKinley Park, Irving Park, Garfield Ridge, Edgewater), Hinsdale, Lisle and Cicero, Ill.

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