ILNews

Panel disagrees in admitting expert testimony

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The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today that a trial court didn't err in allowing into evidence an injured woman's testimony about medical tests and the cause of her pain. The judges did disagree about whether the court erred in granting the woman's motion to strike portions of the defendant's expert medical witness's testimony.

Amanda Cave was injured in a car accident when Eric Sibbing's car slammed into the back of hers as she slowed while driving. At the time of the accident, she told responders she didn't need an ambulance, but as the days went on the pain in her foot and back became worse so she sought medical treatment. She eventually visited a chiropractor and underwent a nerve conduction study.

Cave filed her negligence suit against Sibbing, who admitted fault for the crash. The trial court granted her motion to strike portions of the testimony of Sibbing's expert medical witness, Dr. Paul Kern, who said the nerve conduction study and chiropractic care were unnecessary. The jury awarded her $71,675 for damages.

On appeal in Eric P. Sibbing v. Amanda N. Cave, No. 49A02-0802-CV-165, Sibbing challenged the decision by the trial court to admit certain testimony by Cave's witnesses and to exclude portions of Kern's testimony.

The judges, citing Coffey v. Coffey, 649 N.E.2d 1074, 1078 (Ind. Ct. App. 1995), ruled the trial court didn't appear to err in admitting Cave's testimony about what her doctor had told her about diagnostic tests and the cause of her pain. Most of the information to which Cave testified was presented to the jury through other exhibits or witnesses, wrote Judge Paul Mathias.

Chief Judge John Baker dissented from Judges Mathias and Elaine Brown's ruling that the trial court didn't abuse its discretion in granting Cave's motion to strike Kern's testimony. In his dissent, the chief judge wrote he disagreed with the majority's view that the holding in Whitaker v. Kruse, 495 N.E.2d 233 (Ind. Ct. App. 1986), precludes a defendant from calling an expert witness to render an opinion as to whether all of a plaintiff's treatments were reasonable or necessary under the circumstances.

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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