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Malpractice decision addresses qualifications of specialist

John M. Cilluffo, a neurosurgeon, was sued by Sherri and Michael Rieger, after his BAK cage surgery on Sherri.  Riegers claimed that the surgery was conducted negligently and presented the testimony of another neurosurgeon who was in the process of retiring from his surgical practice to a pure office practice.   Both doctors specialized in the same area of practice and devoted a majority of their professional time to that specialty, however, the Rieger's consultant was no longer spending a majority of his time in a surgical practice.  On that basis, the defendant's insurer sought to disqualify him from offering an opinion about Ciluffo's negilgence. 

The trial judge punted the issue to the Court of Appeals, to sort out the legislature's intent when it required that qualified malpractice experts must  "devote a majority of their professional time to the active practice" of a particular specialty.  The Court of Appeals unanimously concluded that so long as the proffered witness devotes the majority of his time to the same specialty or sub-specialty, he or she need not have a practice profile that is identical to the defendant's.  On that basis, the limited current surgical schedule of the proffered expert is a question to be weighed by the jury in evaluating his testimony--not an issue for disqualification.
Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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