Court rejects pediatric neurologist's testimony that abnormal uterine forces caused cerebral palsy
In the recent Mock v. Hackley Hospital case, the Court of Appeals held that the Plaintiff's expert, a pediatric neurologist, could not offer testimony linking their child's cerebral palsy to the delay in delivering the child after two hours of Pitocin failed to induce dilation. The plaintiff's specialist doctor testified that abnormal uterine pressures caused a reduction in blood supply and oxygenation, and the defendants admitted that compressive forces on the fetal brain can cause brain damage.
Nevertheless, the court authored a holding that usurped the jury's function of deciding whether the doctor's opinion was reliable. It held that there was not enough medical data to insure the accuracy of the expert's medical opinion, and therefore it could not support a jury verdict. The specialist testified that his theory enjoyed wide acceptance in the medical community and that definitive medical research on the issue could not be performed, since it would be unethical to allow a fetus to be subjected to prolonged abnormal intrauterine pressure. Even though he cited four medical studies and one of the defendant's experts conceded his theory was "possible", the court excluded the doctor's testimony and the case was dismissed.