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J.B. v. Missouri Baptist Hospital of Sullivan

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

January 12, 2018

J.B., a minor, by and through his Next Friend, R ICKY BULLOCK, Plaintiff,
v.
MISSOURI BAPTIST HOSPITAL OF SULLIVAN, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          E. RICHARD WEBBER, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on three Motions to Exclude filed by Defendant Missouri Baptist Hospital of Sullivan [46, 48, 50] and three Motions to Strike filed by Defendants Dr. Shamim X. Amini and BC Missouri Emergency Physicians, LLP [52, 54, 56]. These motions are substantially similar and seek to exclude certain testimony and reports of three expert witnesses retained by Plaintiff: (1) Dr. John Hughes, (2) Delores Gonzalez, and (3) Brooke Liggett.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On August 30, 2016, Plaintiff J.B., a minor, filed this medical malpractice suit by and through his Next Friend, Ricky Bullock, against Defendants Missouri Baptist Hospital of Sullivan (“MBHS”), BC Missouri Emergency Physicians, LLP, and Shamim X. Amini, M.D. (“Dr. Amini”). Plaintiff alleges Defendants failed to appropriately treat Plaintiff's left leg wound in the MBHS Emergency Department, which resulted in Plaintiff sustaining further injuries.

         Plaintiff disclosed the following three experts to Defendants: Dr. Hughes, an occupational medicine doctor; Dolores Gonzalez, a vocational expert; and Brooke Liggett, an economic expert. On December 15, 2017, Defendant MBHS filed three motions relating to Plaintiff's proffered experts: (1) Motion to Exclude Expert Testimony and Report of Dr. John Hughes as to Plaintiff's Purported Functional Capacity [46], (2) Motion to Exclude Expert Testimony and Report of Delores Gonzalez [48]; and (3) Motion to Exclude Expert Testimony and Report of Brooke Liggett [50]. Defendants Dr. Amini and BC Missouri Emergency Physicians, LLP, filed three motions which are nearly identical to those filed by Defendant MBHS: (1) Motion to Strike Testimony and Opinions of Dr. John Hughes [54], Motion to Strike Testimony and Opinions of Delores Gonzalez [52], and Motion to Strike Testimony and Opinions of Brooke Liggett [56]. Because the Defendants filed substantially similar motions, this Court will concurrently address the motions with respect to each proffered expert.

         A. Motions to Exclude Testimony and Reports of Dr. Hughes [46, 54]

         Defendants ask this Court to exclude Dr. Hughes' testimony as to Plaintiff's purported functional capacity for standing or walking as a result of his alleged injuries. Specifically, both motions cite language from Dr. Hughes' report alleging Plaintiff's ability to stand or walk was reduced to “perhaps as much as a maximum of four hours per day.” Defendants state this language is vague and speculative and is not reliable or admissible under Rule 702 and Daubert. They argue Dr. Hughes has admitted he did not perform the functional capacity testing which they allege is required for an expert to arrive at a reliable opinion regarding Plaintiff's functional capacity.

         In his response to these motions, Plaintiff stresses Dr. Hughes is merely approximating and is not attempting to give a precise figure. Plaintiff argues testimony is not rendered inadmissible simply because it is inexact and that Defendants' arguments concerning the imprecise nature of the four-hour estimation should go to the credibility, and not admissibility, of the testimony.

         B. Motions to Exclude Testimony and Reports of Delores Gonzalez [48, 52]

         Defendants ask this Court to exclude the entirety of Ms. Gonzalez's opinion concerning the vocational capacity of Plaintiff because it is speculative, unreliable, not based on sufficient facts or evidence, and not helpful to the jury. They allege Ms. Gonzalez bases her opinion on the report by Dr. Hughes, specifically relying on his estimation that Plaintiff now has a four-hour capacity to stand or walk. Plaintiffs argue this estimation is inadmissible for the reasons contained in their motions to exclude testimony of Dr. Hughes, and as a result, Ms. Gonzalez's opinion must be excluded.

         In his response, Plaintiff reasserts his argument that the estimation contained in Dr. Hughes' testimony is admissible and states Ms. Gonzalez is permitted to rely on the admissible evidence of a medical doctor to form her opinion as a vocational expert. During oral argument on the motion, Plaintiff further argued experts are permitted to rely on information not otherwise admissible. Plaintiff's response also states Defendants misrepresent the basis for Ms. Gonzalez's opinion and argue Ms. Gonzalez performed an extensive evaluation based on numerous sources which could allow her to independently reach the same opinion.

         C. Motions to Exclude Testimony and Reports of Brooke Liggett [50, 56]

         Defendants ask this Court to strike the entirety of Ms. Liggett's opinion because she relied on the opinions of Ms. Gonzalez who relied on the report of Dr. Hughes. Defendants reassert the arguments contained in the motions to exclude the testimony and reports of Ms. Gonzalez and Dr. Hughes and state Ms. Liggert's opinion is based on “two levels of speculation by other expert witnesses, thus failing to meet the standard for admissibility under Rule 702 and Daubert.”

          In his response, Plaintiff reincorporates his response to the motions to exclude the testimony and reports of Ms. Gonzalez and Dr. Hughes, stating Defendants' analyses in those motions provide the sole basis for this motion and because ...


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