Florida Court Allows Medical Malpractice Case to Proceed
Medical malpractice lawyers rely on expert witnesses to boost their cases and help them convince the jury of the damages caused to their victims. However, there are requirements for expert witnesses, as not just anyone can serve as one in a medical malpractice case. For example, for a gynecology case, a doctor must have practiced in the gynecology field for number of years and be considered an expert in the field.
So why was one obstetrician and gynecologist–with more than 30 years of experience practicing–considered not eligible to serve as an expert witness? Because she was not practicing in the medical field at the time of the case. She was also transitioning into a new career as a lawyer.
In January 2009, a 20-year-old Florida woman gave birth to a stillborn child. She underwent a medical procedure at the time. Three days later, she collapsed and died. The woman was ill during her pregnancy and had lost 36 pounds in just two months.
Her surviving family members filed medical malpractice lawsuits against a medical malpractice, two doctors and two hospitals. During an investigation process used to help resolve these types of cases, some concerns were raised about the expert witness used. Plaintiffs are to offer an opinion about the medical issues involved through the use of an expert witness. The woman’s estate used an obstetrician and gynecologist from Texas.
The defendants’ attorneys, however, felt that the doctor was not qualified to be an expert witness. They requested more information about her background and found that she likely was not regularly engaged in the practice of her professions. She had retired several years earlier and had just finished law school and graduate school to pursue a different career. Another bone of contention was that the lawyers of the defendants were denied additional information about the doctor’s background.
Because of these issues–and the fact that the estate of the victim did not comply with the requirements of the pre-suit discovery process–the case was dismissed by a judge in the circuit court. However, a 39-page response by a Supreme Court justice rejected that decision and allowed the case to move forward. The biggest factor was the fact that the doctor did have a 30-year history of practicing in obstetrics and gynecology. She was the chief of the OB-GYN department at a small hospital and was considered well-qualified to serve as an expert witness.
A chief justice disagreed, stating that the doctor’s retirement in March 2008 made her ineligible to serve as an expert witness despite her 30-year career because she was not currently practicing in the field.
Seek Help for Your Medical Malpractice Case
Medical malpractice cases are highly complex. They require the use of expert witnesses and when they do not meet the requirements or provide enough evidence for the victim, they can negatively impact the case.
Make sure you have an aggressive team on your side. The Dade City medical malpractice attorneys at Mander Law Group can help you achieve a favorable outcome. To schedule a consultation, call (800) 557-0411 today.