Bifurcation of Expert Standards

October 25, 2013

Ward v. Ramsey, — A.3d —, 2013 WL 5716164 (Conn. App. 2013)

As I wrote previously, the “same specialty” requirement that became widespread in medical malpractice cases – see herehereherehere, and here – applies only to experts who testify about the physician’s duty of care and whether s/he breached it. Experts testifying about causation must satisfy a different set of requirements under the general law of evidence. Depending on jurisdiction, these requirements either align withFrye or with Daubert and are generally more flexible than the “same specialty” rule.

A few days ago, the Appellate Court of Connecticut has confirmed this understanding. In Ward v. Ramsey, — A.3d —, 2013 WL 5716164 (Conn. App. 2013), the defendant alleged that only a surgeon qualifies as an expert who can testify about a “surgical outcome” (bowel perforation that led to sepsis that led to multiorgan failure and death) and that a board certified gastroenterologist – eligible to testify about the alleged gastroenterological malpractice – cannot testify about causation.

The Court rejected the “causation specialty” argument and allowed the gastroenterologist to testify about causation after finding that he has the requisite medical knowledge.