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Salem: Board Affirms Opinion on Admissibility of 'Self-Taught' Expert's Testimony

  • State: Tennessee

The Tennessee Workers' Compensation Appeals Board affirmed a trial court decision denying a motion in limine that sought to exclude an expert’s deposition testimony because the physician had no training in use of the American Medical Association’s Guides, and stated at one point that she could not recall how she arrived at her rating.

Jane Salem

Jane Salem

In Ailshie v. TN Farm Bureau, the employer contended the trial court should have disallowed the doctor’s opinions based on McDaniel v. CSX Transportation Inc. In that case, the Tennessee Supreme Court stated that an expert’s opinions are to be based on “relevant scientific methods, processes and data.”

The board disagreed. Judge David Hensley wrote for the board that, considering the totality of her testimony, she “applied the methodology contemplated by the AMA Guides,” and “her inability to recollect the details of her impairment assessments for employee’s alleged traumatic brain injury and cervical injury during her deposition do not indicate such a lack of trustworthiness as to render her opinions inadmissible.”

Read the board’s opinion here.

The board also released a significant decision regarding discovery parameters in Tennyson v. Saver’s Painting and Wallcovering LLC. The employer wanted to depose the injured worker before mediation and a dispute certification notice issued. The trial court allowed it but limited the time for the deposition to one hour.

Judge Hensley wrote for the board in this case as well, concluding, “Neither the bureau’s regulations addressing discovery nor the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure condition depositions or any other method of discovery on the parties having participated in mediation.”

As for the time limit, the board held that, “the trial court’s reasoning for imposing the one hour limitation on employee’s deposition without identifying a sufficient factual basis for the limitation resulted in an injustice to employer and constituted an abuse of the trial court’s discretion.”

Read the opinion here.

Jane Salem is a staff attorney in the Tennessee Court of Workers' Compensation Claims, Nashville. This entry is republished with permission from the court's blog.

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