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Court Orders New Trial in Medical Malpractice Case, Citing Improper Expert Witness Testimony

Posted in Firm News

Recently, the Supreme Court of Mississippi remanded a negligence case back to the trial court for a new trial after the court determined that the trial court allowed improper expert witness testimony and an improper closing argument. The case stemmed from a 2008 incident in which a woman who was in a nursing home fell and broke her hip following a surgical procedure to repair her fractured hip. Sadly, the woman ended up passing away several days after the fall.

Her family brought a lawsuit against the nursing home, making several claims, including:

  • Failing to provide the appropriate number of staff for the residents;
  • Failing to provide a sufficient nursing plan;
  • Failing to take reasonable steps to prevent or eliminate dangers in the nursing home; and
  • Failing to seek a doctor’s guidance with regard to the specific needs of the woman.

At trial, the nursing home provided expert testimony relevant to the standard of care in nursing homes and whether the staff on duty showed the appropriate level of competency in caring for the woman. The family’s expert witness asked to inspect the nursing home, although the nursing home attempted to block this inspection, asserting that several years had passed since the incident, and equipment has changed. The family’s representative then attempted to exclude the defendant’s expert testimony and cited the Daubert standard.

Ultimately, the jury ended up returning a verdict in favor of the family. However, the nursing home appealed the decision, claiming that the trial court admitted undisclosed expert testimony, the court did not allow the defendants to present certain expert testimony, and the plaintiff made an improper argument to the jury based on inadmissible expert testimony. The court agreed with the defendants and remanded the case for a new trial.

The Application of the Daubert Standard in New Mexico

There are generally two types of evidentiary rules that address the requirements for expert testimony:  the Frye standard and the Daubert standard. New Mexico complies almost wholly with the Daubert standard, although the State has not fully embraced some recent federal changes. The Daubert standard mandates that in order for an expert witness to be certified as such, the trial judge must make a preliminary assessment based on several factors. First, they must determine whether the technique that the expert is using has been tested. Second, it must be determined whether the expert’s methodology has been peer reviewed. Third, the court evaluates the known or potential error rate. Fourth, the court looks at the existence of standards controlling the operation used by the expert. Finally, the court considers whether the expert’s methodology has gained widespread acceptance. If these standards are not met, the party will not likely be certified as an expert in the field.

Have You Been Injured Due to the Negligence of Another Party in New Mexico?

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to the negligence of another party, you may be able to hold them responsible for your injuries. As the above case illustrates, following the pertinent rules regarding expert witnesses is crucial. A failure to do so can lead to lengthy delays and may result in your case being prematurely dismissed. It is important that you have a dedicated and experienced nursing home abuse attorney to zealously advocate on your behalf while ensuring that the proper rules of evidence are followed. The attorneys at the Fine Law Firm have many years of experience handling all types of personal injury cases. If you are successful, you may be entitled to monetary compensation covering your past medical expenses, future or recurring medical expenses, and possibly damages for pain and suffering. Contact the Fine Law Firm today at 800-640-6590 to schedule your free initial consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Court Dismisses Medical Malpractice Case Due to Plaintiff’s Failure to Comply with Statute of Limitations, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, November 15, 2016.

Woman Awarded $1.2 Million Verdict in Grocery Cart Injury Case, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, October 18, 2016.