Michigan court gives green light to physician's testimony in malpractice case

By Charmaine Little | Dec 31, 2018

LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline) – A physician’s expert opinion in an ongoing medical malpractice lawsuit following a diagnosis got the green light in the State of Michigan Court of Appeals on Dec. 3.

Judge Colleen O'Brien and judges Jonathan Tukel and Anica Letica concurred in the opinion. The court ruled that the Oakland Circuit Court did not abuse its discretion by finding Dr. Laith Farjo was qualified to give testimony.

Jason Turkish sued William Beaumont Hospital after suffering deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or a blood clot. He was officially diagnosed after his physician chose not to perform surgery after fracturing his right knee and continued his Coumadin 22 hours after it was discontinued. 

He sued over allegations that the 22-hour Coumadin "hold" caused the DVT. He then filed a motion in limine hoping to prevent Farjo, the hospital’s orthopedic expert, from contributing standard-of-care testimony. 

While Turkish argued that Farjo said most of his professional practice was in sports medicine and he wasn’t qualified to speak on orthopedic surgery, the Circuit Court and appeals court disagreed. The Circuit Court said based on the evidence, there’s nothing under regulations that prevent him from testimony since he’s an actual board-certified orthopedic surgeon.

“There is no dispute that Dr. Farjo satisfied the requirement of MCL 600.2169(1)(a),” O'Brien wrote. “During the relevant period, [the physician] was a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, and Dr. Farjo was also a board-certified orthopedic surgeon as well as fellowship trained in sports medicine.” 

MCL 600.2169 oversees the requirements for an expert witness in a medical malpractice case.

O'Brien pointed out that Farjo said multiple times that he was dedicated to the general orthopedic surgery field, including his testimony that he performed the surgery in question multiple times and could describe with specific detail on how to go about it.

Considering this, the appeals court decided that Farjo’s testimony concerning standard-of-care was sufficient as it relates to MCL 600.2169(1).

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