DOROTHY WEAVER, COADMINISTRATOR (ESTATE OF DEMARIUS DOUGLAS WEAVER), et al. v. CRAIG MCKNIGHT et al., SC 18974
Judicial District of New London
Medical Malpractice; Whether Plaintiffs' Experts were Properly Precluded From Testifying as to Causation. The plaintiff parents brought this medical malpractice action in connection with the stillbirth of their son. They alleged that the fetus died because the defendant doctor failed to properly care for the mother during the pregnancy. The defendants filed a motion in limine seeking to preclude the testimony of two of the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses. The experts, both physicians board certified in obstetrics and gynecology, were expected to opine that the stillbirth was caused by the mother's uncontrolled gestational diabetes. The defendants argued that neither expert possessed the requisite level of expertise to opine on the cause of death of the intrauterine fetus. The trial court granted the motion in limine, determining that the experts could not testify as to the cause of death. The court subsequently directed a verdict in favor of the defendants, finding that the plaintiffs had failed to produce medical evidence establishing a causal connection between the alleged deviation from the standard of care and the death of the fetus. The Appellate Court (134 Conn. App. 652) affirmed the judgment, finding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in precluding testimony from the plaintiffs' expert witnesses because the plaintiffs failed to establish the experts' qualifications to offer expert testimony regarding the cause of death of the fetus. As to the first expert, the Appellate Court noted that, while he indisputably possessed certain knowledge regarding gestational diabetes, the plaintiffs failed to show that his belief regarding the cause of death here amounted to anything more than surmise or conjecture. As to the second expert, the Appellate Court noted that, while he claimed that he could determine a cause of death where a pathologist could not, the plaintiffs had failed to produce any evidence indicating the validity of that medical opinion. The Supreme Court will now determine whether the Appellate Court properly concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in precluding testimony by the plaintiffs' two experts, both of whom are board certified in obstetrics and gynecology.