Court: Superior Court of Delaware, Kent
Case Name: Vick v. Khan
Citation: 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97587
In this medical malpractice case brought against a defendant obstetrician and gynecologist, testimony from the defendant’s pathology expert witness regarding the presence of uterine fibroids and their causal relation to postpartum hemorrhage was held to be admissible.
The plaintiff had seen the defendant OB/GYN during the course of her pregnancy. Before the plaintiff’s delivery, the defendant performed an episiotomy but failed to close the laceration properly. The defendant also removed and collected the umbilical cord and gave the plaintiff blood transfusions against her wishes.
The following day, the defendant OB/GYN performed an emergency hysterectomy on the plaintiff due to postpartum hemorrhaging. The emergent hysterectomy was performed without the plaintiff’s consent and against her express wishes. During the operation, the plaintiff was restrained against her will. At one point, the plaintiff tried to flee the operating room but was forcibly returned to the table, resulting in injury.
The plaintiff and her husband filed this case against the defendant alleging medical malpractice by fraud, conversion, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and medical negligence.
The Pathology Expert Witness
The defendant retained a pathology expert to testify on the presence, size, and features of the plaintiff’s uterine fibroids and their causal relation to her postpartum hemorrhage. The defendant’s pathology expert was board-certified in anatomical research and worked as a pathologist at Georgia Medical College.
The plaintiffs argued that because the expert was not an OB/GYN physician, he was unqualified to opine regarding standards of care in obstetrics or gynecology. The plaintiffs also argued that the rationale of the pathology expert witness’s views was factually incorrect and did not meet the minimum expert witness standards. The plaintiffs claimed that the pathology expert’s evidence should be omitted, arguing his procedure was defective and that he focused his conclusions on the analysis of the suspected uterus of the plaintiff’s fetus, which instead damaged her womb.
The court found that the plaintiff’s allegation regarding the pathology expert’s qualifications was largely unfounded. The plaintiffs argued that the pathology expert was not qualified to provide evidence on the standard of care or on matters relating to obstetrics or gynecology, as he was not an OB/GYN. The defendant, however, never suggested that the pathology expert witness would give any such evidence. Rather, the court noted that the expert had been called to discuss the implications of the plaintiff’s uterine fibroids. These opinions did not pertain to any standard of care or concerns among obstetrics or gynecologists in the eyes of the court.
The court found that the pathology expert’s views were based on information fairly relied on by experts in his profession. To the extent that there was some substantive disagreement as to whether the slides investigated by the defendant pathology expert were representations of the plaintiff’s vagina, the court noted that the plaintiffs presented no relevant evidence on this issue.
The court found no valid basis to prohibit the pathology expert witness from testifying at this stage. The plaintiffs’ motion to preclude the defendant pathology expert’s testimony was denied.