Finally, the New Jersey Supreme Court has reevaluated the requirements for qualifications necessary for an expert witness to offer an opinion against a fellow physician.
Finally, the New Jersey Supreme Court has reevaluated the requirements for qualifications necessary for an expert witness to offer an opinion against a fellow physician. The case of Nicholas v. Mynster was decided on April 25, 2013. The case involved a patient sickened by carbon monoxide poisoning. He was evaluated by an emergency medicine physician and admitted to the hospital by a family practice physician. Relying on the New Jersey Affidavit of Merit Statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-27, the plaintiff supplied an Affidavit of Merit and expert report by an internal medicine physician with sub-specialty certifications in pulmonary disease and experience with hyperbaric medicine. Defense counsel moved to bar the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert witness arguing that he was not adequately qualified to offer opinions against physicians specializing in emergency medicine and family practice. The Supreme Court agreed with defense counsel’s argument, reversed the decision of the trial court and granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants.
Relying on the Nicholas v. Mynster case, we have filed several applications at the trial court level for dismissal where plaintiff’s experts are not appropriately qualified. The trend thus far is for the trial court to allow plaintiff’s counsel additional time to secure a new expert. The rationale is that dismissal of the case would be too severe since the law has recently changed. Nevertheless, for new cases filed, plaintiff’s counsel will be required to retain an expert witness appropriately qualified and within the same specialty or specialties as the defendant physician.