Court Rules That a Defense Expert Cannot Review MRI Films for the First Time at Trial

By Michael Zerres

In a non-medical malpractice case, but on an issue that is certainly relevant to medical malpractice practioners, the Appellate Division in Ingrao v. Goncalves, A-1332-10T1 ruled that a defense expert could not examine MRI films for the first time in Court.

The case involved a damages only trial following a motor vehicle accident. Defendant’s examining defense expert, Francis DeLuca M.D. attempted to review MRI films taken of the patient’s lumbar spine for the first time in Court. Those films were available for review well before trial and Dr. DeLuca never requested copies to review when he examined the plaintiff, or, at any time thereafter.

The trial Court ruled that he could not review them for the very first time at trial in an attempt to bolster his opinions that the patient’s injuries were not from the motor vehicle accident in question. The Appellate Court agreed, finding that, “if it was important to defendants that Dr. DeLuca examine the MRI films to bolster his expert opinions, then defense counsel should have assured that the films were provided to Dr. DeLuca before trial.” Naturally, in such a situation, Dr. DeLuca would have had to have issued a report regarding his review of the MRI films prior to the discovery end date in order for such opinions to be admissible.

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