Different standards in med. mal. cases unconstitutional.CASE ON POINT: Seisinger v. Siebel, 2008 AZ (06/17/2008) -AZ
CASE FACTS: In August 2004, Laura Seisinger filed a complaint against Dr. Scott Siebel alleging that he committed medical malpractice Improper, unskilled, or negligent treatment of a patient by a physician, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care professional. when he administered a spinal epidural epidural /epi·du·ral/ (-dur´il) situated upon or outside the dura mater.
Located on or over the dura mater.
n. to her. Thereafter, Dr. Seisinger disclosed in discovery that his expert witnesses would be Dr. J Noun 1. Dr. J - United States basketball forward (born in 1950)
Erving, Julius Erving, Julius Winfield Erving . Antonio Aldrete, as an expert witness who would testify based upon his examination of the patient and his review of her medical records. Prior to trial, Dr. Siebel moved in limine in limine (in limb-in-ay) from Latin for "at the threshold," referring to a motion before a trial begins. A motion to suppress illegally-obtained evidence is such a motion. (See: motion to suppress)
IN LIMINE. In or at the beginning. to preclude Dr. Aldrete's testimony because he did not meet the requirement of Arizona law governing the qualifications necessary for expert witnesses in medical malpractice suits. Laura Seisinger did not dispute that Dr. Aldrete could not satisfy the requirements under Arizona law. Instead, she argued that the law was unconstitutional and a violation of the separation of powers separation of powers: see Constitution of the United States.
separation of powers
Division of the legislative, executive, and judicial functions of government among separate and independent bodies. doctrine because it was in direct conflict with Rule 702 and asked the trial court to decare dec·are
A metric unit of area equal to 10 ares. it unconstitutional. The trial court granted Dr. Siebel's motion, ruling that the section of law in question did not violate the separation of powers doctrine or detract from detract from
verb 1. lessen, reduce, diminish, lower, take away from, derogate, devaluate << OPPOSITE enhance
verb 2. the court's ability to apply rule 702. The trial court granted Seisinger an extension of time to disclose a new expert witness. When "Scisinger failed to disclose a new expert, the court granted Dr. Siebel's motion to dismiss the case. Seisinger appealed. This presented several key issues to be decided by the appellate court A court having jurisdiction to review decisions of a trial-level or other lower court.
An unsuccessful party in a lawsuit must file an appeal with an appellate court in order to have the decision reviewed. , not the least of which was whether the section of Arizona law in question was constitutional or not. Appellate courts generally review challenges to a statute's constitutionality de novo [Latin, Anew.] A second time; afresh. A trial or a hearing that is ordered by an appellate court that has reviewed the record of a hearing in a lower court and sent the matter back to the original court for a new trial, as if it had not been previously heard nor decided. . Further, appellate courts presume a statute is constitutional and will not declare a statute unconstitutional unless it is "satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt" that it conflicts with the federal or state constitution. Accordingly, appellate courts resolve all uncertainties in favor of constitutionality. The Arizona Constitution requires the three main branches of government, legislative, executive and judicial, to remain "separate and distinct, and no one of such departments shall exercise the powers properly belonging to either of the others." However, the separation of powers doctrine does not require absolute compartmentalization of the branches. Thus, a legislative enactment violates the Arizona constitution only when it "unreasonably limits or hampers the judicial system in performing its function" The Arizona constitution confers on the Arizona Supreme court The Arizona Supreme Court is the highest court in the U.S. state of Arizona. It consists of a Chief Justice, a Vice Chief Justice, and three Associate Justices. Each Justice is appointed by the Governor of Arizona from a list recommended by a bipartisan commission. the power to make rules relative to all procedural matters in any court. The plaintiff argued that the Arizona law was unconstitutional.
COURT'S OPINION: The Court of Appeals of Arizona held that the section of Arizona law in question violated the separation of powers provision of the Arizona Constitution. Accordingly, the court reversed the trial court's judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with its decision The court noted that Arizona rules of Evidence address admission of "Opinion and Expert Testimony Testimony about a scientific, technical, or professional issue given by a person qualified to testify because of familiarity with the subject or special training in the field. ." Further, the court found that the issue of the admissibility of the plaintiff's expert testimony in this case came under Rule 702. That rule, the court noted, provides in pertinent part: "If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact trier of fact n. the judge or jury responsible for deciding factual issues in a trial. If there is no jury the judge is the trier of fact as well as the trier of the law. to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testily tes·ty
adj. tes·ti·er, tes·ti·est
Irritated, impatient, or exasperated; peevish: a testy cab driver; a testy refusal to help. thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise."
LEGAL COMMENTARY: Arizona courts have held that an expert witness need not be of the same specialty as the defendant in a medical malpractice suit to be competent to testify, regarding the standard of care. Rather, a witness may testify, based upon his or her "education, experience, observation or association with that specialty." Thus, "it is the scope of the witness' knowledge and not the artificial classification by title that should govern the threshold question of admissibility. The court noted that the section in question, however, provides additional expert witness qualifications in medical malpractice suits. The court agreed with the plaintiff that the applicable section unconstitutionally infringed on the Arizona Supreme Court's powers to make procedural rules and also conflicted with Rule 702 in setting forth additional requirements for expert witnesses in medical malpractice cases. The court noted that the Arizona Supreme Court has previously discussed the circumstances under which a statute supplants a court rule. Editor's Note: Man), courts have been confronted with both state and federal constitutional issues that arise from having separate and distinct requirements for qualifying witnesses to testify as expert witnesses in medical malpractice cases. There is a need for uniformity throughout the states. What we have is a hodge podge n. 1. A puddle; a plash.
2. Porridge. of laws and decisions that run contrary to the fact that some state laws are, in fact, unconstitutional. Will other courts follow the lead of the Arizona courts?
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