Teter v. Deck

Ron Teter was diagnosed with a tumor in his right kidney. Urologist Dr. Andrew Deck, assisted by Dr. David Lauter, performed surgery to remove Teter’s kidney. Immediately after surgery, Teter developed a condition in which increased pressure in one compartment of the body that compromised the tissues in that compartment. Even after a procedure to relieve the pressure, Teter continued to suffer from pain in his left leg that interfered with his ability to stand for long periods of time and with his ability to engage in his usual activities. Teter and his wife (the Teters) sued Drs. Deck and Lauter for negligence. The Teters eventually settled with Dr. Lauter and stipulated to his dismissal as a defendant. The parties encountered difficulties in preparing for trial for their case against Dr. Deck. Neither the Teters nor Dr. Deck complied completely with discovery deadlines and the trial court granted motions to compel by both sides. The case was reassigned to a different judge, who made a record of his strict requirements of conducting the trial in his court. Defense counsel was routinely cautioned about her conduct during trial, and the judge noted his displeasure with both parties' "disregard for protocol and rules of evidence." The issue on appeal before the Supreme Court involved the court's exclusion of a key medical witness as sanction for the parties' conduct during trial. The Court concluded the pretrial motions judge excluded the expert without making the required findings that the violation was willful and prejudicial and could be imposed only after explicitly considering less severe sanctions. When the trial judge was reassigned to this case, he granted a new trial on the ground that the exclusion was a prejudicial error of law, and he was "well within his discretion in granting the new trial." The Supreme Court found that the facts of this case "amply" supported the ruling. View "Teter v. Deck" on Justia Law