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A Medical Expert’s Word is Not Enough (PA)

August 21, 2019

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<p style="text-align: justify;">An expert's opinion needs to be based on a thorough review of materials.  To that end, you'll find that much expert cross-examination focuses on what the expert <em><strong>did not</strong></em><em> </em>review.  But what if the expert reviewed...well... nothing?</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">On August 12, 2019, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed an entry of summary judgment in favor of Robert Wilson in<em> <a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Dulvaire-Stack-v.-Wilson-1.pdf">Dulvaire-Stack v. Wilson</a></em>.  The case stems from a motor vehicle accident that occurred on February 7, 2013 in which Wilson negligently made a left hand turn and struck Duvlaire-Stack’s vehicle, causing her injuries.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The issue on appeal was a pretrial motion <em>in limine </em>filed by Wilson in which he sought to preclude Duvlaire-Stack’s treating physician Dr. Emper from testifying at trial.  According to the trial court, Dr. Emper was able to identify neither the exact date of the accident nor the date when Duvlaire-Stack’s shoulder pain began.  Additionally, Dr. Emper admitted he failed to review any of Duvlaire-Stack’s medical records from February 7, 2013 to April 2017.  Thus, Dr. Emper’s testimony “failed to establish unequivocal causation between the accident and the diagnosis.”  As such, the court granted Wilson’s motion <em>in limine </em>and precluded Dr. Emper’s testimony at trial.  Soon after, the trial court entered an order granting summary judgment in favor of Wilson as Duvlaire-Stack could not prove causation without Dr. Emper’s testimony.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">On appeal, the PA Superior Court agreed that Dr. Emper’s testimony should have been excluded as his medical testimony did not establish a causal connection between the accident and Duvlaire-Stack’s right shoulder injury.  The court’s main focus in affirming the trial court ruling was the fact that Dr. Emper had <em>no knowledge </em>of Dulvaire-Stack’s condition and treatment between the time of the accident in 2013 and April of 2017.  The court noted that plaintiff did not even make an attempt to clarify why Dr. Emper was not provided these records when the appeal was briefed.  As such, the PA Superior Court affirmed the trial court ruling.</p>

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