• June 4, 2010

According to allegations of cardiologist Dr. Antoine Khoury, during a surgical procedure that he was conducting (a coronary angiogram), a nurse moved a large machine suspended from a ceiling track in such a way that it posed a risk of hitting the patient.  Dr. Khoury moved quickly, grabbing the device to prevent a collision, and, in the process badly injured his back — causing permanent and disabling injury.

Khoury brought two actions in connection with this event — a products liability case against Philips Medical Systems (before Sr. U.S.  District Court Judge David Doty) and a claim for additional long-term disability benefits against Reliastar (before Sr. U.S.  District Court Judge Richard Kyle, Sr.).

Plaintiff Khoury lost both claims based on his workplace injury on summary judgment.  He is seeking to reverse the orders, with argument scheduled before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit this month (Riley, Colloton, and Judge Raymond C. Clevenger, III (Sr. U.S. Circuit Judge, D.C. Cir.) (set for argument on Tuesday, June 15, in St. Paul).  The exclusion of plaintiff’s liability expert in the products liability case may be of particular interest to civil litigators.

Can an ergonimist, a PhD. in bioengineering, a president of Ergonomic Engineering, Inc. who has written numerous scholarly articles in this field, testify as to the allegedly flawed design of a particular device?  Judge Doty answered, “No.”  Furthermore, Judge Doty scrutinized plaintiff’s expert’s methodology and found it unreliable:
Andres’ opinions are questionable because the methods he employed did not replicate the factual circumstances that allegedly caused Khoury’s injury.
… Andres’ opinions are also unreliable because he did not consider an alternative cause of Khoury’s injury: the nurse’s failure to inform Khoury before she moved the monitor bank.
It is possible the Eighth Circuit panel could use this case to give additional direction to civil litigators about the required “fit” between an expert’s area of expertise and the subject matter of the expert’s testimony or about the “gate-keeper” function of the trial judge for expert testimony.

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