Malpractice claimant abandoned by her expert deserves opportunity to employ a different expert
Cheryl K. Street sued Tammy Gleeson, D.O., and others, alleging negligence in managing deceased Jeanette Hutchings' acute hemorrhagic shock. Street filed an affidavit of meritsigned by an appropriate specialist, however, when the defendants demanded the plainitff's expert's deposition, she refused to cooperate. It is not unusual for plaintiff's medical malpractice experts to be intimidated by the pressure of testifying against a colleague or the medical establisment.
In any event, when Street's attorneys could not secure the cooperation of the expert, they sought the court's permission to add a different expert witness. The trial court, relying in part on the Defendant's misrepresentation of an earlier procedural event, refused Street the right to add a new expert and dismissed her wrongful death claim. On appeal, the higher court noted the trial judge's acceptance of the defense's mis-description of earlier events and concluded that it was an abuse of discretion to dismiss the plaintiff's lawsuit under the circumstances.