Nick Carter offered insights in a news article on a federal court decision that a woman who fell at a Costco store could not rely on Massachusetts’ “obvious causal relationship” exception to excuse her from having to introduce expert medical testimony to rebut a defense expert’s opinion that an accident eight months before the Costco incident caused her shoulder injury.
The woman obtained a torn rotator cuff diagnosis 10 weeks after hitting her right shoulder against a wall as she slipped and fell in the Costco restroom.
Costco introduced medical expert testimony that atrophy in the woman’s shoulder indicated that the injury occurred when she fell down a set of stairs eight months before her fall at Costco.
A federal court judge in Massachusetts granted Costco’s request for summary judgment precluding the woman’s claim for damages related to her rotator cuff injury on the basis that the woman did not have medical expert evidence to counter Costco’s argument.
Mr. Carter, who is not involved in the litigation, told Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly that it is not always necessary for a personal injury plaintiff to have expert medical testimony, “but it’s a judgment call whether a jury can determine causation in some of these cases, like this one.”
He added that because of the facts of the case — notably the plaintiff’s preexisting injury to the same shoulder — the court could conclude that an expert was needed to distinguish whether it was the first or second fall that caused the injury.
“I couldn’t say as a matter of law the plaintiff’s case would have survived summary judgment if the defendant hadn’t presented expert testimony, but it certainly would have made it more likely,” Carter said.
A partner at the firm, Mr. Carter has a wide-ranging litigation practice including representing individuals who have suffered substantial injuries due to the negligence of others.