Epidemiologist Qualified to Testify in Medical Negligence Case
A Nevada District Court trial judge recently ruled that Michael Freeman, Ph.D., an epidemiologist, was qualified to testify in a medical malpractice case. Karosy v. Summerlin Hospital Medical Center, et al., Case No. A-12-660815-C (Clark County, Nevada D.C.). In this case, 16-month-old infant plaintiff was admitted to Summerlin Hospital with a diagnosis of pneumonia. When her condition worsened, she was ultimately intubated. During the course of care, plaintiff sustained severe brain damage. The defendants, through their experts, claimed that plaintiff’s severe brain damage was likely caused by plaintiff’s medical condition and not medical negligence.
Plaintiff retained Michael Freeman, Ph.D., an epidemiologist, who performed an expert analysis of defendants’ alternative theories of causation. Epidemiology is a particular branch of medicine which studies the patterns, causes, and effects of diseases and other factors relating to the health of the body. Dr. Freeman offered opinions in epidemiology and rebutted defendants’ expert’s opinions that the child’s brain damage was caused by plaintiff’s medical condition individually and/or in combination, rather than defendants’ alleged negligence.
Defendants filed a motion in limine to strike Dr. Freeman and argued that because Dr. Freeman was not a medical doctor, he was not qualified to give opinions as to breaches in the standard of care, medical causation, and life expectancy.
In opposition, plaintiff’s counsel submitted Dr. Freeman’s curriculum vitae, which showed that Dr. Freeman is actively involved with researching, analyzing, and evaluating issues in epidemiology. Plaintiff’s counsel explained that although Dr. Freeman is not a medical doctor, as an epidemiologist, he has studied patterns of diseases and statistics.
The trial court, after reviewing all of the moving papers, denied defendants’ motion to bar Dr. Freeman. The court stated:
Despite defendants’ arguments to the contrary, Michael Freeman is in fact a doctor and an expert in his field of epidemiology. The value of his testimony is a question of weight and not admissibility and it is proper to allow plaintiff to present that testimony to the jury. Michael Freeman is qualified to testify within the scope of his field of expertise and defendant may cross-examine him. THEREFORE, the Court ordered defendants’ motion in limine to strike rebuttal expert Michael Freeman denied.
If you or a loved one were injured as a result of medical negligence, it is strongly recommended that you seek experienced counsel immediately.