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Trial court shouldn't have struck expert witness affidavit

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment for a doctor in his attempt to collect an unpaid medical bill, finding the trial court erred when it struck the affidavit of an expert witness designated by the defendant.

In Marianne Jackson v. Thomas Trancik, M.D., No. 29A02-1012-CC-1391, Marianne Jackson went to Dr. Thomas Trancik for two office visits and shoulder surgery, which consisted of four separate procedures performed during one surgery. The bill was $11,147; Jackson paid a $20 co-pay and the doctor received nearly $6,000 as payment from Jackson’s insurer. He later filed suit against Jackson to recover the remaining $5,252.

Jackson wanted to introduce an affidavit by Christine Lewis, owner of MedReview Solutions, a firm specializing in reviewing medical bills. Lewis believed that three of the four surgical procedures weren’t billed correctly and that resulted in the doctor overcharging Jackson by more than $3,700. Her affidavit was struck after Trancik argued that Lewis wasn’t an expert qualified to render such an opinion and that her opinion wasn’t shown to be reliable or based on personal knowledge.

Lewis’ curriculum vitae shows she reviews medical bills for a living and she is also a certified public accountant and has completed a training program with Medical Billing Advocates of America. Based on her experience and training, she is qualified to render an expert opinion on the correctness of Trancik’s billing, wrote Chief Judge Margret Robb.

“Lewis is not second-guessing Dr. Trancik’s decision to perform the surgery that he did, nor is she opining about the quality of his work or its utility measured in medical terms. Rather, Lewis is opining that given the services that were performed, a different amount should have been billed according to methodology that reflects commonly accepted pricing and reimbursement methods. A trier of fact may consider Lewis’s lack of medical training when evaluating the weight to be given to her opinion, but that does not make her opinion inadmissible,” she wrote.

The judges also found that Lewis’ affidavit establishes a genuine factual issue as to what amount Jackson may owe, so summary judgment for Trancik was an error. They remanded for further proceedings.

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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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