First Circuit Overturns District Court Expert Exclusion in Med Mal Case

RI Lawyers Weekly reports on a case brought in US District Court based on claims of negligence and a violation of EMTALA:

An expert’s opinion in a medical-malpractice case could not be excluded based on the judge’s suspicion of bias, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has decided.

Noting that the expert had not appeared on behalf of a defendant in a single case during the preceding year, the trial judge found such a track record indicated a bias in favor of medical-malpractice plaintiffs.

But the 1st Circuit disagreed, holding that the judge erred in excluding the expert evidence.

“In so doing, the district court invaded the province of the jury and exceeded its discretion,” Judge Kermit V. Lipez said for a unanimous three-judge panel. “The court’s reasoning had nothing to do with the scientific validity of the opinion that [the expert witness] proposed to offer or the principles that underlie it.”

The 12-page decision is Cruz-Vazquez, et al. v. Mennonite General Hospital, Inc., et al., Lawyers Weekly No. 01-190-10. The full text of the ruling can be found by clicking here.

Pedro F. Soler-Muñiz of Puerto Rico represented the plaintiffs. He was opposed by José Héctor Vivas, Roberto Ruiz Comas and Anselmo Irizarry-Irizarry, also of Puerto Rico.

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