Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Pennsylvania Superior Court Addresses Fair Scope of Expert Report Rule

In the case of Hassel v. Franzi, No. 311 EDA 2018 (Pa. Super. April 8, 2019 Olson, J., Dubow, J., Stevens, P.J.E.) (Op. by Stevens, P.J.E.), the court addressed the fair scope of expert testimony in a medical malpractice action.  

This matter involved a Plaintiff who was immobilized after she fractured her leg and who developed a blood clot that allegedly caused a fatal cardiac arrest.  

The jury in the trial of the case ultimately determined that one of the doctor’s conduct failed to meet the standard of care but that his negligence was not a factual cause of the Plaintiff’s death.  The jury also found that another doctor’s conduct met the standard of care.  

On appeal, the verdict and judgment was affirmed.    The appellate court rejected the Plaintiff’s contention that the trial court had erred in permitting the Defendants’ experts to testify to matters outside the scope of their reports.  

In this regard, the appellate court noted that the Plaintiff initially failed to specifically object to those portions of the testimony that were alleged outside the scope of the expert reports.  

The Superior Court also ruled that, in any event, the Plaintiff was fairly on notice as to the anticipated expert testimony and/or was able to conduct a productive cross-examination of the experts regardless.  

The Superior Court additionally found that the Plaintiff failed to assert specific objections to the causation testimony by those experts.  

The appellate court additionally rejected the Plaintiff’s contention that the Defendants had been allowed to introduce excessively duplicative expert testimony despite precluding the Plaintiff from presenting cumulative testimony at trial.   The Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s finding that the challenged testimony was corroborative rather than cumulative, as each expert was testifying from the viewpoint of his own specialty.  

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source:  “Digest of Recent Opinions.”  Pennsylvania Law Weekly (April 30, 2019).

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