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Georgia Court of Appeals Affirms Another Exclusion of Expert Witness Testimony

For the second time in two days, the Georgia Court of Appeals has affirmed summary judgment for the defense based on excluded expert witness testimony. The decedent had surgery at a hospital to remove her left kidney. While recovering, she bled internally and died. The wrongful death claimants sued, alleging malpractice against the nurses for failing to notify the surgeon of signs and symptoms of bleeding.

Plaintiffs relied on the testimony of an expert witness to testify as to the nursing standard of care. The hospital moved to exclude the witness on the grounds he was not qualified because he had not supervised, taught or instructed nurses regularly. At the hearing, the expert testified that he did not teach at a nursing school and that he did not supervise nurses at a hospital on a regular basis. He pointed to his general experience as the chair of a hospital quality control council as support for his belief that he supervised nurses regularly. But, the expert testified that he did not personally instruct nurses about policies and procedures. The trial court granted the motion and excluded the testimony. With the absence of expert testimony on standard of care, the trial court granted summary judgment. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs did not point to any specific evidence in the record to show the expert was qualified on the issue of teaching or supervising nurses about the signs of internal bleeding.

Take-home: the key to a good Daubert motion is specificity – is the expert specifically qualified or not? The same is true for the response.

The case is Smaha v. The Medical Center of Center Georgia, __ S.E.2d ___, 2023 WL 4104102 (Ga.Ct.App. June 21, 2023).