Court says hospital can use plaintiff's experts on its behalf in negligence lawsuit

By Charmaine Little | Dec 12, 2018

MIAMI – The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida recently denied a motion to bar a Florida medical center from using plaintiff's expert witnesses on its behalf in medical negligence suit.  

In its Dec. 4 ruling, the district court denied the motion by Karina Cros Rivas in her negligence suit against Cleveland Clinic Florida related to her Liposonix procedures in 2013 and 2014.

Court filings said Rivas had bad reactions to Lipsonix procedures in 2013 and 2014. After visiting South Miami Hospital on multiple occasions and being diagnosed with abdominal wall cellulitis, she went to Cleveland Clinic Florida. There, she was seen by one of the facility's physicians and had a CT scan. The radiologist didn’t drain any fluid but instead distributed a prescription and told her to take it for five days. She was also told to speak with her general surgeon. She later went to Mercy Hospital where she had surgery to get inflamed tissue removed. Over the course of two years, she had other surgeries so she could get fluid drainage and repairs to plastic surgery gone wrong, before she sued the Cleveland Clinic Florida.

Rivas is suing the Cleveland Clinic Florida, alleging one of its physicians was negligent in deciding drainage wasn’t the best route in her treatment. Because of that decision, she said she suffered pain, impairment, mental anguish, impairment, and other issues. 

As an affirmative defense, Cleveland Clinic Florida said the plaintiff’s other medical providers should also be held liable for her suffering, especially since her experts have determined they also breached the standard of care. Considering this, the main question the court had to ask is whether the defendant had the right to use the plaintiff’s expert to testify on its behalf. The district court answered in the affirmative and denied the plaintiff's motion.

According to court filings, Rivas contended the defendants’ experts haven’t provided any opinions that the other medical providers breached the standard of care, and she attempted to argue that the defendants shouldn’t use her experts who did in fact bring those opinions.

“Plaintiff’s experts offered testimony directly relevant to defendant’s affirmative defenses, and plaintiff has long been aware of that fact; there is no prejudice to plaintiff in allowing defendant to call those experts,” the court said.

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