It is worth noting that situations similar to those described in this medical malpractice case could just as easily occur at any of the healthcare facilities in the area, such as Kaiser Permanente, U.C. Davis Medical Center, Mercy, Sutter, or any skilled nursing facility.
(Please also note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this wrongful death case and its proceedings.)
California Courts have agreed with this proposition. The factual circumstances in County of L.A. v. Superior Ct. [Martinez](1990) 224 Cal.App. 3d 1446 are similar to the facts herein. In County, plaintiff (mother of child) alleged that defendant physicians had committed malpractice in attending to plaintiff’s delivery of her child and as a result the child suffered severe brain damage.
During discovery, County defendant doctors refused to answer expert questions during depositions arguing that expert testimony was premature since the time in which to serve expert designations under §2034 had not yet run. Plaintiffs Motion to Compel testimony was granted; and defendant doctors appealed. For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.
The Appellate Court reversed the Trial Court’s Motion to compel and held that defendant doctors not be required to provide expert opinion at subject depositions. In making its decision, the Court stated in pertinent part:
“In a malpractice action, the defendant himself or herself may provide the expert testimony which establishes plaintiffs prima facie case.” [Robinson v. Pediatric Affiliates Medical Group. Inc. (1979) 98 Cal.App.3d 907, 910, 159 Cal.Rptr. 791.] However, the present expert opinions of a party physician concerning the care given are irrelevant unless the physician is designated as an expert witness … [Citation to Scarano v. Schnoor (1958) 158 Cal.App.2d 612, 323 P.2d 178].
Questions to the defendant physicians about their impressions and reasons for their action or lack of action at the time the medical procedure was performed are, of course, entirely appropriate. Such questions were asked without objection by defense counsel. But, as the Scarano case makes clear, questions about after-the-fact opinions and impressions of the physicians stand in quite another light. (See Part 3 of 3.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.