W&B War Stories: The Daubert Challenge

In this Video Think Piece, Christina Billiet and Kaitlan Skrainar discuss a case they tried — and won — in which they employed a new strategy recently made available in Maryland: the Daubert challenge and evidentiary hearing.

This case involved the death of a 75-year-old patient who presented to the ED and died six hours later. Plaintiffs’ experts claimed the patient died of sepsis and that antibiotics would have saved her life. The autopsy report, however, identified a different cause of death. Tina, Kaitlan and counsel for the co-defendant, Ronald Shaw, questioned the reliability of Plaintiffs’ experts’ theories and sought to preclude their unreliable medical expert opinions.

Enter the Daubert hearing: The defense team filed a motion arguing Plaintiffs should not be allowed to present evidence that sepsis was the cause of death or that antibiotics would have saved the patient’s life, as the methodologies utilized by Plaintiffs’ experts were unreliable and lacked adequate support. Pre-trial, the team engaged in a Daubert evidentiary hearing, putting on defense experts and cross-examining Plaintiffs’ experts as to the factual basis for their opinions.

Although the trial judge denied the defense motion (allowing Plaintiffs’ experts to present their theories at trial), the Daubert hearing exposed more precisely the claims they were going to make.

Bottom Line: In the right case, a Daubert hearing can be an effective defense strategy to challenge unreliable expert opinions.  Even when unsuccessful, a Daubert hearing can add value by fleshing out questionable expert theories.  If you have any questions about the new Daubert standard for expert testimony, or  conducting a Daubert hearing, please contact us. We’re here to help.

This information does not constitute legal advice, and is not a substitute for counsel directed at your specific situation.

Christina Billiet

Christina Billiet

Christina Billiet is a trial attorney and partner at Waranch & Brown, LLC. She has extensive experience defending medical malpractice cases, as well as representing physicians, nurses and other health care providers in a variety of Board of Physician, guardianship and hospital privileging matters. Ms. Billiet has successfully tried cases in the District and Circuit Courts of Maryland, as well as the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. She has acted as lead counsel at trial, obtaining defense verdicts in several multi-million dollar cases.
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