Medical Malpractice Case Rejected On Expert Issue

Jan 28, 2019

In a decision focused on expert witnesses, a state appeals court Friday rejected a medical-malpractice lawsuit stemming from allegations that a woman suffered a broken femur during a hip-replacement surgery. 

The patient, Sandra Dale Essex, filed the lawsuit in Osceola County against orthopedic surgeon Michael Karr and other defendants.

Before filing medical-malpractice lawsuits, plaintiffs are required under state law to submit written expert opinions to support their contentions of negligence. Essex submitted such opinions from an emergency-room physician, a radiologist and a nurse, according to Friday’s ruling by a panel of the 5th District Court of Appeal.

But the defendants argued that the expert opinions did not meet the requirements of the law because they did not come from health-care professionals in the “same specialty” as Karr.

A circuit judge agreed and dismissed the lawsuit, leading to the appeal. The three-member panel of the appeals court Friday issued a seven-page decision upholding the circuit judge’s ruling.

“Here, because Dr. Karr is an orthopedic surgeon, the plain language of this statute required that the medical expert or experts who provided Essex with the corroborating presuit verified medical expert opinions be of the same specialty,” said the decision, written by appeals-court Judge Brian Lambert and joined by judges John Harris and Jamie Grosshans.