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Webster v. Center for Diagnostic Imaging, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

May 9, 2018

COURTNEY WEBSTER, BRIAN WEBSTER, Plaintiffs,
v.
CENTER FOR DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING, INC. d/b/a CDI d/b/a CDI INDIANAPOLIS, CDI INDIANA, LLC d/b/a CDI d/b/a CDI INDIANAPOLIS, Defendants.

          ORDER

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, United States District Court Chief Judge

         Plaintiffs Courtney and Brian Webster filed this lawsuit against the Center for Diagnostic Imaging, Inc. and CDI Indiana, LLC (collectively, “Defendants”), alleging that Ms. Webster's recurrent rectal cancer went undiagnosed for over a year and a half after her CT scan was misread.

         In advance of the June 11, 2018 trial in this matter, the Websters filed three Motions to Exclude Expert Testimony. Each of these Motions highlights the importance of cross-examination, and in considering each Motion, the Court is guided by Justice Stevens' words in United States v. Salerno:

Even if one does not completely agree with [John Henry] Wigmore's assertion that cross-examination is ‘beyond any doubt the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth, ' one must admit that in the Anglo-American legal system cross-examination is the principal means of undermining the credibility of a witness whose testimony is false or inaccurate.

505 U.S. 317, 328 (1992) (Stevens J., dissenting).

         Presently pending before the Court are: (1) the Websters' Motion to Exclude the Testimony of Thomas R. Ireland, Ph.D., [Filing No. 80]; (2) the Websters' Motion to Exclude the Testimony of Anthony J. Senagore, M.D., [Filing No. 82]; and (3) the Websters' Motion to Exclude the Testimony of Neerav Mehta, M.D., [Filing No. 84].

         I.

         Applicable Law

         Federal Rule of Evidence 104 instructs that “[t]he court must decide any preliminary question about whether a witness is qualified . . . or evidence is admissible.” Fed.R.Evid. 104(a). Federal Rule of Evidence 702 provides that expert testimony is admissible if: “(a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue; (b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data; (c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and (d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.” Fed.R.Evid. 702. A trial judge:

must determine at the outset . . . whether the expert is proposing to testify to (1) scientific knowledge that (2) will assist the trier of fact to understand or determine a fact in issue. This entails a preliminary assessment of whether the reasoning or methodology underlying the testimony is scientifically valid and of whether that reasoning or methodology properly can be applied to the facts in issue…. Many factors will bear on the inquiry . . . .

Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 592-93 (1993). Notably, “[t]he principles set forth in Daubert, which addressed scientific testimony, apply equally to non-scientific fields.” Manpower, Inc. v. Ins. Co. of Pennsylvania, 732 F.3d 796, 806 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 147-49 (1999)).

         The Court has a “gatekeeping obligation” under Rule 702, and “must engage in a three-step analysis before admitting expert testimony. It must determine whether the witness is qualified; whether the expert's methodology is scientifically reliable; and whether the testimony will ‘assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue.'” Gopalratnam v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 877 F.3d 771, 779 (7th Cir. 2017) (quoting Myers v. Ill. Cent. R.R. Co., 629 F.3d 639, 644 (7th Cir. 2010)). Put another way, the district court must evaluate: “(1) the proffered expert's qualifications; (2) the reliability of the expert's methodology; and (3) the relevance of the expert's testimony.” Gopalratnam, 877 F.3d at 779.

         II.

         Background[1]

         In 2009, Courtney Webster underwent treatment for rectal cancer. [Filing No. 41-1; Filing No. 41-2.] ¶ 2010, her medical exams showed no signs of cancer, but she underwent follow-up colonoscopies periodically over the next three years, none of which detected cancer. [Filing No. 41-3.]

         In October 2014, Ms. Webster underwent a colonoscopy, which revealed a “large mass” and a “flat polyp.” [Filing No. 41-5 at 1.] Based on these results, the doctor who performed the colonoscopy recommended that Ms. Webster schedule a CT scan “at the next available appointment.” [Filing No. 41-5 at 2.] On November 17, 2014, Ms. Webster underwent a CT scan, (the “2014 scan”), the results of which were signed by Dr. Michael Walker the following day. [Filing No. 41-9; Filing No. 41-11 at 2.] Dr. Walker made the following conclusions:

1. Abnormal extraluminal soft tissue structure along the posteromedial aspect of the cecum. This was not present in 2009, I do not have a more recent exam. This is of unclear etiology, but may represent an implant along the serosal margin. No. adjacent focus of bowel wall thickening or infiltration is identified.
2 . No. additional enlarged soft tissue structure or adenopathy in the peritoneum.
3. Stable nodule adjacent to the right adrenal gland. This may be an exophytic nodule arising from the lateral limb. Given it s stability, this is highly likely benign finding.
4. Tiny low-density lesion lower pole left kidney consistent with a small simple cyst. 3 x 2 mm calculus midportion right kidney.
5. The uterus is septate in morphology.

[Filing No. 41-11 at 2.] Dr. Walker's conclusions did not note a rectal tumor on the images of the 2014 scan. [Filing No. 41-8 at 5; Filing No. 41-11 at 2.]

         By March, 2016, Ms. Webster again complained of constipation. [Filing No. 41-14.] A scope performed on April 27, 2016 revealed a tumor, [Filing No. 41-16], and a CT scan the following week revealed a tumor that had “increased in size since November 17, 2014.” [Filing No. 41-17 at 2.]

         On October 10, 2016, Courtney and Brian Webster filed suit, arguing that “as a direct and proximate result” of Defendants' “substandard care, Courtney Webster's rectal cancer grew and spread, significantly reducing her chances of surviving the disease, significantly altering her treatment options, and causing her severe pain, suffering and emotional distress, ” and depriving Brian Webster “of his wife's services, love, and companionship.” [Filing No. 1 at 2.]

         III.

         Discussion

         On April 12, 2018, the Websters filed three Motions to Exclude Expert Testimony that Defendants intend to introduce at the June 11, 2018 trial in this matter. [Filing No. 80; Filing No. 82; Filing No. 84]. Below, the Court provides a brief summary of each expert's report and of the parties' arguments related to the report and ...


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