Earlier this month, an appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case dealing with the admissibility of expert witness testimony. The case is important to Virginia personal injury plaintiffs because the law governing the admissibility of expert testimony in Virginia is similar to the law applied by the court in this case. The case also illustrates the importance of securing an experienced, reliable, and credible expert witness.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff planned on having a chemical peel procedure performed at the defendant day spa. Prior to the procedure, the plaintiff filled out a questionnaire indicating that she suffered from rosacea. The aesthetician at the day spa failed to review the plaintiff’s questionnaire and performed the chemical peel.
After the procedure, the plaintiff’s skin condition began to worsen. She later filed a personal injury lawsuit against the aesthetician and the day spa, claiming that their negligence resulted in her rosacea worsening. The defendants admitted that the aesthetician was negligent, but they claimed that the worsening of the plaintiff’s skin condition was not necessarily caused by their negligence.
In support of their defense, the defendants called an expert witness who planned on testifying that the chemical peel was not necessarily the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. The expert would also have testified that, based on a review of the plaintiff’s medical records, the plaintiff shared responsibility for her injuries because she had stopped seeing a dermatologist for her condition over two years ago. Similarly, she had stopped taking the medication prescribed to her.
The plaintiff argued that the defense expert’s testimony should not be admitted into evidence. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the expert relied on unreliable methodologies in arriving at her conclusion because the expert never reviewed the plaintiff’s skin condition – either in person or by photograph – prior to the chemical peel. Thus, the expert had no basis of understanding as to what the plaintiff’s skin looked like before the procedure.
The trial court agreed with the plaintiff, precluding the defense expert from testifying. Afterwards, since there was no admissible evidence suggesting the plaintiff was negligent, the court entered judgment in favor of the plaintiff.
The defendants appealed; however, the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s ruling under the same line of reasoning. The court explained that trial courts act as the gatekeeper of evidence and are afforded broad discretion in carrying out this task. Here, the court held, the trial court was acting within its discretion when it precluded the defense expert from testifying. Thus, judgment in favor of the plaintiff was proper.
Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Virginia accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Virginia personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Sidney Schupak have extensive experience handling a wide range of personal injury cases, including those arising out of improperly performed medical procedures. To learn more, and to speak with an attorney about your case, call 703-491-7070 today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we are able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
See More Blog Posts:
What Injury Victims Need to Know About Virginia’s Recreational Use Statute, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, February 20, 2018.
Obviousness of the Hazard in Virginia Premises Liability Cases, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, March 5, 2018.