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New York Court Explains When Expert Testimony is Admissible in Medical Malpractice Cases

The strength of a plaintiff’s medical malpractice case often hinges on the strength of their expert’s opinion. In other words, the more compelling the expert’s argument that the defendant caused the plaintiff’s harm is, the more likely it is that the jury will find in the plaintiff’s favor. Expert opinions must be more than merely persuasive, though, they must also be based on reliable facts and methods; if they are not, they may be deemed inadmissible. Recently a New York court discussed the admissibility of expert testimony in a medical malpractice case in which it precluded the plaintiff’s expert from testifying. If you suffered harm due to incompetent medical care, you could be owed damages, and you should talk to a Rochester medical malpractice lawyer about your possible claims.

The Background of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff’s son suffered a brachial plexus injury during birth. After the injury was deemed permanent, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, the doctor that delivered the infant. Among other things, she asserted that the defendant’s aggressive use of force on the infant’s head and shoulders caused the child’s harm. Prior to the trial, the defendant moved to bar the plaintiff’s expert from testifying that maternal labor forces could not have caused the infant’s injuries or that they would not have happened if the defendant had not moved the infant’s head.

When Expert Testimony is Admissible

The court granted the defendant’s motion. In doing so, it discussed when expert testimony is admissible. It stated that pursuant to the Federal Rules of Evidence, a person deemed an expert by their skill, education, training, knowledge, or expertise may offer their opinion as long as their testimony is based on adequate data or facts and is the product of reliable methods and principles that they have reliably applied. The opinion must also help the trier of fact determine a fact in issue or understand the evidence.

The threshold question regarding admissibility is whether the testimony is relevant. If it is, the court will then assess whether it is reliable. In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff’s expert’s proffered testimony was relevant but ultimately deemed it unreliable because it lacked a sufficiently reliable foundation. Specifically,  the court found that the premise for the plaintiff’s expert opinion was not supported by the scientific literature. Thus, his opinion was not admissible.

Confer with a Trusted Rochester Medical Malpractice Lawyer

People harmed by medical malpractice have the right to pursue claims against the providers that caused their harm, but if they fail to produce adequate evidence in support of their case, they may be unable to recover damages. If you were injured by the carelessness of a physician, you should talk to an attorney about your rights. The trusted Rochester medical malpractice lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and help you to gather any evidence in your favor. You can reach us via our form online or by calling us at 585-653-7343 to set up a meeting.

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