Medical expert testimony is often central to a trial, and the best experts often “teach” jurors the complex concepts underlying a case as much as they testify as to their ultimate conclusions. In the latest episode of Medical Testimony Master Class, Burton Bentley II, M.D. explains the value of a key expert’s background during testimony that cleared a defendant physician in a 9-figure med mal trial.
David Pullman suffered facial paralysis after surgery to remove a non-cancerous tumor. Pullman claimed one of the surgeons in the procedure, defendant Dr. Marc Schwartz, failed to adequately inform him of the risks and benefits of the surgery and did not stop the surgery when his facial nerve was being affected.
Dr. Bob Carter, a neurosurgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School, testified in the California trial concerning Dr. Schwartz's treatment. Dr. Carter's teaching background helped him through more than four hours of testimony where he did everything from explain how he believed the facial nerve had been damaged to walk jurors through video of the procedure itself.
Throughout his testimony, Dr. Carter often addressed the jury directly, with a professorial delivery that served to both connect with jurors and bolster his own credibility as to his conclusions.
And in the latest episode of Medical Testimony Master Class, Dr. Bentley said that the Harvard-based expert’s experience as both a practitioner and professor was a key to his strong courtroom presentation.
“The fact that he’s in the trenches doing the procedure, [and] that he is an academic, meaning he can teach, he can explain, he can articulate verbally and in writing, that’s how you convey a case,” he said.
“That’s one of the reasons I love university experts.”
Dr. Bentley said Dr. Carter’s roles as both a professor and a practicing physician are common in the university setting and contrary to a misconception that university medical professors lack the requisite practical experience to back up their conclusions at trial.
“There’s always this mistaken notion: well, if they're a professor of surgery, well they’re not a doctor, or they’re not operating, or they’re just writing books," Dr. Bentley said. "[In fact,] professors of surgery, and medicine as well, can be fully clinical, or substantially [clinical].”
Dr. Carter’s testimony proved pivotal in helping clear the defendant doctor against a claim where plaintiff’s attorneys sought $120 million.
Dr. Bentley’s discussion on how the expert’s background helped his trial presentation is a small part of the latest episode of Medical Testimony Master Class. In it, Dr. Bentley discusses approaches to cases involving informed consent, details how to frame testimony on statistics, and more.
In each episode, Dr. Bentley, one of the nation’s leading authorities on the strategic and tactical use of medical experts in complex litigation, uses courtroom video to analyze the medical testimony that played key roles in cases ranging from fender benders to “bet the company” product liability trials.
More about Dr. Bentley
And as founder and CEO of Elite Medical Experts, Dr. Bentley relies on his depth of experience in aligning trial teams across the country with university experts and physicians.
Unlike other firms, Elite is not a referral service. Experts cannot list with Elite. Instead, Elite contacts them, ensuring only the best-qualified, top-tier expert is custom-matched addressing the specific needs of each case.
It’s a key reason why more than 4,000 law firms, corporations, and governmental entities across the country trust Elite.
Elite offers flexible solutions for every need, budget, and deadline, and is renowned for its start-to-finish litigation support and zero-risk guarantee.