NJ High Court Raises Bar for ‘Expert’ Testimony
In a decision that should reduce the number of meritless medical liability lawsuits filed in the Garden State, a unanimous New Jersey Supreme Court yesterday ruled that doctors called as expert witnesses on plaintiffs’ behalf must hold the same credentials as defendant physicians.
The Star-Ledger reports that the case of Nicholas v. Mynster revolved around New Jersey’s Patients First Act of 2004, a law aimed at containing the “dramatic escalation in medical malpractice insurance premiums,” as characterized by the court’s opinion written by Justice Barry T. Albin.
The law “does not permit [the plaintiff’s expert] to testify about the standard of care exercised by a physician practicing in a different specialty,” declared the high court.
“The health care delivery system is strained, and only meritorious cases should go forward,” said Melinda Martinson, an attorney for the Medical Society of New Jersey, which had filed an amicus brief in the case. “[Plaintiffs] should be able to produce an expert who is qualified.”
It’s early in the year, but this decision — especially considering that it comes from the once-and-future judicial hellhole of New Jersey — automatically qualifies for consideration among other judicial Points of Light for citation in the next full Judicial Hellholes report coming this December.