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Torts/Evidence: Medical Negligence—Qualifications of Expert

Posted by Ted A. Schmidt | Nov 03, 2021 | 0 Comments

Windhurst v. Arizona Dept. of Corrections, No. 2 CA-CV 2020-0162 (App. Div. II, November 2, 2021) (J. Vasquez)

WHERE EXPERT IS QUALIFIED TO TESTIFY TO STANDARD OF CARE OF A MEDICAL INSTITUTION EXPERT NEED NOT BE QUALIFIED TO TESTIFY AS TO SPECIFIC ACTS BY SPECIFIC DOCTORS, NURSES OR CLINICIANS IN THE INSTITUTION TO ESTABLISH LIABILITY AGAINST THE INSTITUTION

Plaintiffs' decedent allegedly died as the result of the medical negligence and violation of the Adult Protective Service Act, A.R.S.  §§ 46-451 to 46-461, committed by the Arizona Department of Corrections, Corizon Health, Inc.[Corizon] and Charles Ryan. Corizon's motion for partial summary judgment on the medical negligence claim was granted by the trial court based upon the argument that plaintiffs' medical expert testimony while “broadly” claiming negligence of clinicians, failed to identify any particular individual who committed the alleged negligent acts. The Arizona Court of Appeals vacated and remanded the trial court's ruling.

The court of appeals found that under A.R.S. § 12-2604(B) a claim of institutional negligence does not require proof as to which specific individuals were negligent in causing plaintiff's decedent's death. Similarly, the fact plaintiffs' expert may not have been qualified as being an expert in a like discipline as clinicians, nurses or doctors in the employ of the defendant institution did not disqualify the expert from testifying to the breach of the standard of care of the institution as a whole. Plaintiffs' expert was qualified to render such opinions as it was established that he was a licensed health professional with specialized knowledge in the practice of correctional medicine.

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About the Author

Ted A. Schmidt

Ted's early career as a trial attorney began on the other side of the fence, in the offices of a major insurance defense firm. It was there that Ted acquired the experience, the skills and the special insight into defense strategy that have served him so well in the field of personal injury law. Notable among his successful verdicts was the landmark Sparks vs. Republic National Life Insurance Company case, a $4.5 million award to Ted's client. To this day, it is the defining case for insurance bad faith, and yet it is only one of several other multi-million dollar jury judgments won by Ted during his career. He is certified by the State Bar of Arizona as a specialist in "wrongful death and bodily injury litigation".

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