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Family did have notice that expert pulmonologist was going to testify as pathologist

July 31, 2013

In reviewing a dispute over testimony given by expert witnesses, the Indiana Court of Appeals sees no reason to hold a new trial.  

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s judgment in Don H. Dumont, M.D. v. Penny Davis and Nicole Anderson as Co-Administratrixes of the Estate of Charmitta Jordan, deceased, 45A05-1207-CT-384. The appeals court found the lower court erred by granting the plaintiffs a new trial.   

Following the death of Charmitta Jordan, her family filed a wrongful death action against Don Dumont, M.D. When the jury returned a verdict for Dumont, the family requested a new trial alleging Dumont’s counsel failed to disclose the identification and opinions of two expert witnesses prior to the disclosure deadline.

In particular, the family contended that Michael Ehrie, M.D., who testified as an expert witness for Dumont, should not have been questioned as a pathologist but only as a pulmonologist.

Dumont argued the family and the court was given advanced notice that his intention was to question Ehrie as a pathologist. Namely, Dumont said he would be asking Ehrie histological opinions and did give the court Ehrie’s curriculum vitae which notes he is a pathologist.

After the family objected to Ehrie’s testimony during the trial, the lower court stopped the questioning of him as a pathologist and struck his testimony, instructing the jury not to consider his opinions as a pathologist.

The court of appeals found the trial court abused its discretion when it excluded Ehrie’s entire testimony as a pathologist.

The COA conceded that although the intention to examine Ehrie was disclosed well beyond the pre-trial order’s deadline, the notice was still made six months before the trial date, giving the family more than enough time to depose the doctor.

Also, the appeals court pointed out that during the pre-trial hearing, the family indicated they suspected Ehrie would be examined outside of his previously disclosed expertise in pulmonology but, still, they did not change their preparations for trial.   

In addition, even if Dumont committed misconduct, that error was corrected when the family objected leading the trial court to exclude the testimony and admonish the jury to disregard Ehrie’s statements.

 
 

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