Court upholds verdict for man who lost testicle after E.R. visit
David R. Schleif and Bon Secours Hospital were sued by Michael Viviani after Viviani appeared in the E.R. with a urological emergency. Viviani was awarded a verdict by the jury, but his insurer and attorneys immediately appealed. They argued that the trial wasn't fair. They claimed that they should have been allowed to admit testimony from the urologist on call and that the judge's questioning of Schlief's E.R. expert demonstrated bias.
The Court of Appeals, including one of the Court's most conservative jurists, reviewed the testimony at length and concluded that there was no basis for the doctor's appellate claims. Schlief wanted to cross-examine the urologist, who testified that he was never consulted by the E.R. doctor, by bringing up the fact that the urologist had originally been a defendant in the case. The Court pointed out that this alleged evidence of bias was of no probative value and would have created an improper inference of a prior settlement.
The Court then reviewed the actual questioning by the Court to which the Defendant objected. It noted that the Defendant's E.R. expert had provided inconsistent and vague testimony suggesting that a printed discharge form established the standard of care, and that Schlief, himself, attempted to draw inferences from an entry in the chart that he made but could not decipher. Noting the poor quality of the responsive testimony, the higher court determined that the brief follow-up questioning by the Court was not error, and in fact was appropriate.