In 1993 there was a case before the U.S. Supreme Court known as Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc. The Supreme Court issued guidelines to determine what scientific evidence can be admitted in court, and they became known as the Daubert Standards. They instruct judges to be “gatekeepers” in admitting only evidence which is relevant, reliable, and based on a testable peer-reviewed theory. Such theories must have known error rates and must be generally accepted by the scientific community.
As years went by and cases came before innumerable judges nationwide, some people began criticizing the Daubert Standards. They claim that some judges misinterpret them, looking separately at each component of a body of evidence and barring some while admitting others. Some judges apply the Standards too strictly, and some block all evidence if the medical experts in the case disagree about something.
Presumably some of these complaints stem from an attorney’s personal chagrin at having his evidence rejected and therefore losing his case. One can also assume that some are genuine.
Some states have laws based on the Daubert Standards which set criteria for admission of expert testimony in civil cases. This month the Supreme Court of Georgia rejected plaintiffs’ arguments brought forward to challenge part of Georgia law known as Senate Bill 3. This Bill is also known as the Daubert Bill, as it sets tighter standards for evidence admission. The Georgia Supreme Court upheld it. The plaintiffs’ lead lawyer, Ned I. Miltenberg (of the Center for Constitutional Litigation based in Washington D.C.) was disappointed but is considering a further challenge if a suitable case comes to his notice.
Some of the most complex lawsuits are medical malpractice. The evidence, being medical and obscure to most non-medical professionals, must be examined by qualified medical experts, who then give their testimony if the case goes to trial. This study of a person’s medical records and all related information, along with deposition of all relevant people, can take months and even years. It must be done with the Daubert Standards in mind, as a good medical malpractice lawyer will always build a case with a trial in mind.
If you have incurred injury while under medical care and are wondering if you might have a valid legal claim for medical malpractice, or if you have a loved one in that situation, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation.