Suit against Traverse City cardiologist is dismissed on technicality
Helen Edwads sued Anne Hepner, M.D., a Traverse City cardiologist, after a failed transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) resulted in the perforation of Edwards' esophagus. Edwards consulted with a different cardiologist who filed an Affidavit of Merit alleging that Hepner was negligent in ordering the TEE. After the deadline for adding expert witnesses had passed, Hepner's attorneys sought summary disposition, arguing that Edwards' expert witness could not testify against Hepner because the expert lacked a sub-specialty certification in echocardiography.
The Plaintiff argued that the board-certified cardiologist was qualified to testify about the standard of care applicable to the decision to order a TEE, and that in any event, the case should not be dismissed "with prejudice:" Edwards' attorneys argued that she should have the capacity to present the case wih a new expert witness with the sub-specialty certificate, if the Court deemed that certification essential. The patient's attorneys also argued that prior decisions would require Hepner's attorneys to have raised the qualification issue at an earlier stage, given their claim of lack of credentials.
The trial court agreed with Hepner's attorneys and granted summary disposition. The Plaintiff appealed, however, the Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding that the Defendants were not required to raise the qualification issue earlier, and that in order to criticize Hepner's decision to order the TEE, the patient's expert witness must have certification in the sub-specialty of echocardiology, in addition to being board-certified in cardiology.