Issues: Medical malpractice; Whether the scientific evidence produced during the Daubert hearing met the requisite reliability standards; Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc.; Gilbert v. DaimlerChrysler Corp.; Craig v. Oakwood Hosp.; MCL 600.2955(1); Scientific reliability under MRE 702; Schultz v. Akzo Nobel Paints, LLC (7th Cir.); City of Pomona v. SQM N. Am. Corp. (9th Cir.); General Elec. Co. v. Joiner; Heller v. Shaw Indus., Inc. (3rd Cir.); Motion for JNOV; Wilkinson v. Lee; Ellsworth v. Hotel Corp. of Am.; "Cause in fact"; Skinner v. Square D; "Proximate cause"; Weymers v. Khera; O'Neal v. St. John Hosp. & Med. Ctr.; Nichols v. Dobler; Mulholland v. DEC Int'l Corp.; Exclusion of the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (ACOG) criteria; MRE 403; People v. Bragg; Applicability of ACOG criteria; MRE 703; People v. Kowalski; Exclusion of the PreventionGenetics report; Plaintiffs' counsel's alleged misconduct; Reetz v. Kinsman Marine Transit Co.; Badalamenti v. William Beaumont Hosp-Troy; Questioning of an expert as to the blood gas results; Alleged closing argument misconduct; "Civic duty" argument; Joba Constr. Co. Inc. v. Burns & Roe Inc.; M Civ JI 50.10 & 50.11; MCR 2.512(C); "Plain error"; People v. Carter; People v. Lueth; Case v. Consumers Power Co.; Kemerko Clawson, LLC v. RXIV Inc.; Richman v. Berkley; The "eggshell skull" doctrine; Pierce v. General Motors Corp.; Beadle v. Allis; Stevens v. Veenstra; Jimkoski v. Shupe; Damages; Life expectancy; Palenka v. Beaumont Hosp.; The correct cap; Interest calculation; Reduction to present value; Nation v. WDE Elec. Co.
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: VanSlembrouck v. Halperin
e-Journal Number: 58463
Judge(s): Per Curiam – Gleicher, Borrello, and Servitto
Although the court rejected defendants' claim that the trial judge's purported failure to apply MCL 600.2955 mandated reversal, it reiterated that application of this statute is "mandatory in every case involving death or personal injury in which scientific opinions are expressed." The trial judge's "opinion that the statute lacks applicability in medical malpractice cases is simply wrong." This medical malpractice case arose from M's 1995 birth at the defendant-hospital. M is now 18 years old. "She cannot walk, talk, or feed herself, and requires full-time care." After an 18-day trial, a jury attributed her neurologic injuries to the circumstances surrounding her birth and assessed her damages at $144 million. On appeal, the issues focused on causation and damages. As to whether the scientific evidence produced during the Daubert hearing met the requisite reliability standards, defendants challenged the trial judge's Daubert ruling on four grounds, the first of which was that the judge "stubbornly refused to apply" the § 2955 factors "to the reliability equation[.]" Defendants were correct that the judge "adamantly declared his opposition to applying MCL 600.2955(1) to the facts of this case." Had he "actually failed to consider and apply the statutory criteria, he would have abused his discretion." A court acting as an expert testimony gatekeeper may not "'perform the function inadequately.'" A trial court "abuses its discretion by omitting a necessary component of its gatekeeping obligation." However, despite his "gratuitous criticism of MCL 600.2955(1) and his disavowal of its mandate, he employed all relevant statutory factors when drawing his conclusions." The factors the judge failed to mention either did not apply to this case or did not alter the § 2955 analysis. Thus, the judge's "ostensible rejection of MCL 600.2955(1)" qualified as harmless. "Consistent with its 'gatekeeper' role, a trial court must consider the factors listed in MCL 600.2955(1)." In this case, "science and fact supported both sides' causation views" and the trial court "did not abuse its discretion by deciding to admit both theories, finding both supported by peer-reviewed literature and credible expert opinion, thereby qualifying as reliable." Affirmed.
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