Expert chickens out; Supreme Court denies victim's family the right to add a new expert
Cheryl Street sued Tammy Gleeson, D.O., after her mother, Jeanette Hutchings, died of Hemorrhagic shock. Her doctor had lacerated her femoral artery during surgery and failed to respond before she "bled out." Street's attorneys hired a California surgeon to testify about the standard of card and Gleeson's violation, however, as often happens, the expert got cold feet when it came time to stand up to the medical profession under oath. He refused to appear for a deposition. The insurance attorneys then sought an order to move the case foward and the trial judge issued it. When the surgeon still failed to comply, the attorneys hired (and had to pay) an entirely new expert to support their claim. They offered six deposition dates within a month and prior to the next scheduled court procedure, case evaluation. The trial judge found this response inadequate and dismissed the case entirely.
The three judge panel of the Court of Appeals found this remedy too harsh, particularly given the trial judge's acceptance of the insurance attorneys' claim that the plaintiffs had demonstrated a history of non-compliance. The higher court unanimously pointed out that the defense attorneys' characterization of the discovery history was simply disingenuous.
The Supreme Court heard the defendant's appeal from the Court of Appeals and reversed the appellate court's reinstatement of the case. The high court deemed the trial judge's decision to have been within his discretion and not a substantial injustice.