The following blog entry is written from a defendant’s position as trial approaches. Reviewing this kind of briefing should help potential plaintiffs and clients better understand how parties in personal injury cases present such issues to the court.
(Please also note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this automobile accident case and its proceedings.)
Dr. John Brown, M.D., a radiologist who interpreted imaging data as a treating doctor of plaintiff Johnson, was deposed on February 2, 2009, and his transcript has not been completed by the court reporter. Dr. Brown testified that as a radiologist he is unable to determine the sources of any of the degenerative changes that he saw on plaintiff Johnson’ imaging data he reviewed. For this reason, Dr. Brown’s opinion on causation would be speculative, and would not assist a trier of fact in determining causation.
Based upon the standard for expert testimony in Evidence Code Section 801(a), an expert’s opinion is limited to a subject that is sufficiently beyond common experience that the opinion of the expert would assist the trier of fact. In this case, it is clear that any opinion on causation would only cause to mislead or confuse the jury, as the opinions in regards to plaintiff’s February 2009 fusion surgery are consistent that plaintiff’s experts and treating physicians can not offer an opinion linking the subject accident and this disc injury. For this reason, there is no need for the testimony, as it may cause the jury to be confused as to why the plaintiff is claiming a surgery where not a single medical professional or doctor can causally link to the subject incident. For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.
This will then allow the jury to make a link that can not be established through the evidence. In Jones v. Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation, (1985) 163 Cal.App. 3d 396, a similar situation arose whereby the medical experts in a case were in consensus that there was no causal link between the complained of injuries and a product that was ingested.
The Court upheld a nonsuit motion by the defense based upon the experts not being able to state it was more likely than not that the injury complained of was due to the ingestion of a contraceptive drug by the plaintiff. The opinion of the court ended with this particularly telling statement, There is a limit to the number of presumptions in which the court will indulge solely for the purpose of assisting plaintiff in proving a case, especially when there is no evidentiary starting point from which those presumptions can flow. (Id. at 406)
Defendants contend that in this case, there is no evidence from which to allow to go forward testimony, opinions, or evidence to support plaintiff’s claim that a disc injury that led to a fusion surgery was causally linked to the subject accident. In this case, the Jones decision is binding authority, and without a single expert able to opine that, in fact, there is a causal link between this surgery and the subject accident, plaintiff must not be allowed to put this evidence in front of a jury. (See Part 5 of 5.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.