July 24, 2011
Recently, Genie Eardley was featured by Brian Frasier in his MLW article discussing a Michigan Court of Appeals case involving the requirement for expert testimony in some medical malpractice cases.
A lawsuit against an emergency medical service (EMS) company alleging a delayed response time is a medical-malpractice action and should be pleaded as such, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled.
The court said the ambulance company’s standard of care, set through a local medical authority, was medically based, thus requiring expert testimony to explain it to the jury.
The requirement of an expert to explain the standard of care is what made the case a medical-malpractice action, said Matthew J. Thomas of Detroit-based Rutledge, Manion, Rabaut, Terry & Thomas, P.C.
“Basically, it comes down to whether or not the issues presented by plaintiff would have been outside the knowledge of the common jury,” he said. “If you go up to anybody on the street and say, ‘How long should it take for an ambulance to respond to a priority one call?,’ you’re probably going to get a pretty wide variety of answers. That was kind of the point that we were trying to make with the court.
“You don’t know, and that’s why there was a need for expert testimony in this case.”
But Cannonsburg solo attorney Eugenie B. Eardley said the decision is an example of the “overexpertizing” of litigation, and will drive up costs on plaintiff attorneys who will now need another expert.