Trial court may exclude plaintiff’s expert report, Superior Ct. holds

(5/20/2004) - The Pa. Superior Ct. on May 14 issued an important ruling in a medical malpractice case involving the issue of expert testimony and case management deadlines. In Kurian v. Anisman, the Superior Court upheld a trial court’s decision to preclude the plaintiff’s expert report that had been included with a response to a summary judgment. The trial court determined that the report was submitted beyond the case management deadline for expert reports and it would have been prejudicial to the opposing party.

In a 22-page opinion written by Judge Olszewski, the Court ruled that a trial court may exclude testimony if it first determines that the testimony would be prejudicial to the opposing party. In this case, the Court’s reasons were 1) appellants continually violated court ordered deadlines and 2) that had the testimony been allowed at such a late stage, the defendant would be left with no time to evaluate and respond to the testimony.

Olszewski wrote : “While our Supreme Court has made clear the fact that local rules, such as Philadelphia’s case management system, must take a backseat to our Rules of Civil Procedure, these deadlines are far from meaningless. They are court orders. When these deadlines are violated with impunity, as was done by the plaintiffs in this case, the abusing party must be prepared to pay the consequences. Usually the consequences are less than what occurred here, an order which effectively dismisses the lawsuit.”