Gutierrez v. Vargas

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In this medical malpractice action, the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it allowed Monica Gutierrez’s treating physicians to testify during trial as to their diagnostic opinions and permitted Monica and her parents (collectively, “Petitioners”) to present rebuttal testimony from a second pathology expert. Further, any prejudice attributable to comments made during Petitioners’ closing argument did not merit a new trial. Petitioners alleged that Dr. Jose Vargas negligently failed to diagnose Monica with a chronic kidney disease, which severely damaged her kidneys and forced her to undergo a kidney transplant. After a second trial, the court entered a final judgment award of over $4 million for Petitioners. The Third District Court of Appeal reversed and remanded for a new trial, concluding that Petitioners violated the “one expert per specialty” rule and materially misrepresented the evidence during closing arguments. The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Third District, holding (1) admitting the testimony of Monica’s treating physicians was proper because they testified as Monica’s treating physicians, not expert witnesses; (2) a second pathology expert properly testified in rebuttal; and (3) a single improper comment by Petitioners’ counsel did not require a new trial. View "Gutierrez v. Vargas" on Justia Law