Ingham Medical gets a break
The Court of Appeals sent the Brown v. Ingham Regional Medical Center case back to the trial court after Ingham Medical Center appealed the lower court judge's refusal to allow it to add a new expert witness. Under the medical malpractice tort reform rules, expert witnesses must have very specific qualifications, and the Court of Appeals had previously ruled "reluctantly" that the expert originally selected and disclosed by Ingham was not qualified to testify. Without an expert, it cannot defend the malpractice claim.
When Ingham attempted to add a new (properly credentialed) expert several months late, the trial court refused. The Court of Appeals panel ruled that the case must go back to the trial court to consider issues in addition to "timeliness." While this decision is not unreasonable, it represents a direct contrast to the manner in which similar problems encountered by victims' attorneys are handled: in the past several years, the appellate courts have dismissed, without recourse, virtually every case where a victim's attorney has ended up with an unqualified expert.
All too often, the appellate courts are willing to dismiss an injury claim, particularly if it sounds in malpractice, no matter how harsh the decision, if there is a technical basis. Attorneys for health care providers, unfortunately, seem to operate under a more flexible and forgiving set of rules.