Many cases in Massachusetts rise and fall on the testimony of an expert who has been commissioned by either the Plaintiff or the Defendant to help prove (or defend) their position. Often times an expert is most commonly used in either a medical malpractice or products liability case. A medical expert (normally a physician or a nurse) is brought in to discuss the standard of care applicable in a given case and whether the potential Defendant met or failed to meet the standard. In a products liability case, an expert is most likely retained to discuss the feasibility for an alternative design and whether the absence of such safe guards caused or contributed to an injured Plaintiff’s damages.
In a recent decision out of the Appeals Court in Massachusetts, Jessica Christian, a Plaintiff, brought suit against an anesthesiologist at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The Plaintiff, who received anesthetic care from the Defendant as part of her hysterectomy, claimed that she suffered from numbness in her hand and forearm after the surgery. She consulted with a neurologist who causally related her injury to the anesthesia she received by the Defendant. The Defendant filed a motion with the court claiming that there were no issues of material fact in dispute that rise to a triable level. Put another way, the Defendant asked for the case to be dismissed based on the facts of the case. The court looked at the information presented on both sides and ultimately dismissed the suit due to a failure of the Plaintiff to establish proof of negligence and causation.
Under the Massachusetts common-law of evidence, there are five foundational requirements for the admissibility of expert testimony. A party seeking to introduce expert testimony must show: Continue reading →