Sunday, July 19, 2009

Trial Courts Continue to Struggle With Admissibility of Expert Testimony Linking Fibromyalgia to Traumatic Events

As seen in a recent opinion issued by Judge Michael A. George of the Adams County Court of Common Pleas, George v. Frederick, (Adams Co., July 7, 2009), the trial courts of Pennsylvania are continuing to struggle with the issue of whether or not expert testimony should be allowed to support a plaintiff's effort to link his or her alleged fibromyalgia condition to the traumatic event at issue in the case.

The George court addressed the defendant's motion in limine to preclude such expert testimony and held that the issue of whether such testimony is admissible is subject to the Frye test, which requires a showing that the medical community has generally accepted the theory or principle the expert is putting forth in his opinion. The court took the matter under advisement in order that the parties may submit additional information for the court to review, including complete copies of referenced articles on the topic.

Judge Michael did note that while the Plaintiff's expert's methodology of coming to his opinion, i.e. reviewing the medical records and noting his own medical experience on the issue may be a generally acceptable methodology for reaching an opinion in the medical community, the underlying principle that fibromyalgia can result from truama was not yet established by the Plaintiff to be a generally accepted principle in the medical community. The parties were granted an additional 30 days to offer additional materials in support of their respective positions.

Several years ago, back in April of 2005, I issued an article exploring this very topic and suggesting, at least back at that time, there was no general agreement in the medical community that fibromyalgia can result from trauma so as to support the admissibility of such testimony. That article, entitled "Fibromyalgia as a Diagnosis in Personal Injury Cases," may be viewed by clicking on the title to this post.

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