In the early 1990s, Tom Chambers sent me on a motion mission. Go to court. Argue that Dr. X was used so often by the insurance industry to testify against plaintiffs no matter what that they should be disqualified as an expert in our case. Went to court. Lost the motion.
Tom had me bring and lose that motion multiple times.
“It goes to weight,” declared the judges. “If they’re biased you can bring that out in cross.”
And so I would trudge back to the office. Grumpy to have to fight yet another impossible motion. But Tom persisted. Because he detested defense hack experts.
Going to trial changed my opinion on what to do with awful insurance defense medical experts. We’re not talking about the normal merely biased ones who oppose everything our side says. We’re talking about experts so awful that they are off the charts in terms of bias. The worst of the worst. We all know who they are. They will always party line their testimony no matter how ridiculous it sounds when coming out of their mouths. No matter if their testimony flies in the face of the most obvious truths. They are getting paid to say nonsense and they’re fine with that.
Most recently it happened in an arbitration I presided over with a panel. The defense decided to go with an expert that was known to only testify one way. They had never examined the plaintiff. Or looked at all the medical records. Maintained a rock solid posture that honestly was just plain silly. The plaintiff attorney had brought a motion to strike the expert on bias grounds. But us arbitrators ruled…guess what…that’s right…goes to weight. And at the end of the day it was completely weightless. The testimony only highlighted the desperate lengths the insurance company would go to try to fight off a worthy claim.
In my last trial, the defense hired a well known defense expert to knock down the future prognosis of a teenager who suffered multiple orthopedic injuries but no longer needed a wheel chair, walker, or other accommodation since she had come so far in healing. Instead of trying to be somewhat fair. Or compassionate. He dug right in. Claimed she was healed and would not have any further complications even as she aged over the next 65 years. Dismissed every medical opinion issued by her treating surgeon and other doctors regarding her prognosis and need for help. Took an extreme defense posture no matter what. After the verdict the jury told me they hated him.
It’s good for the Plaintiff when a jury can see through a defense hack.
So resist the urge to pounce. Instead be glad the next time the defense lawyer selects the worst of the worst most biased medical expert that you ever thought could possibly exist.
Photo: Michael is a treating orthopedic surgeon, not a defense hack, and quite a good chef.