Earlier this month, the federal appellate court overseeing Maine district courts issued an opinion in a medical malpractice case. The opinion illustrates the court’s power to exclude evidence if a party fails to comply with the court’s orders. The case raises an important issue for Maine personal injury litigants in that it emphasizes the importance of being familiar with the state’s procedural requirements.
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was seriously injured after she underwent surgery at the defendant hospital. A few years after the surgery, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice claim against the hospital and several doctors. Early on in the process, the court entered a scheduling order to outline several of the relevant deadlines. The scheduling order provided that the plaintiff must disclose the names of her expert witnesses and the contents of their reports by May 20, 2016. The scheduling order also stated that discovery was to close by November 15, 2016.
The plaintiff timely named one expert witness. At some point after the May 20 deadline, the plaintiff filed a motion to withdraw her case against one of the doctors, claiming that she did not have a case against that doctor. The court granted the plaintiff’s motion. The remaining defendants filed a motion asking the court to exclude the plaintiff’s named expert witness. While that motion was pending, the plaintiff filed a motion to re-join the dismissed doctor. The plaintiff noted that a report from another expert indicated that the dismissed doctor might have been responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries.