Defendant Permitted to Have Plaintiff’s Treating Surgeon Testify as to Cause of Decedent’s Injuries – Caratozzolo v. Davis, et al. (A-4773-11T3)

This medical malpractice claim arises from neurologic injuries plaintiff sustained after defendants failed to timely diagnose and treat his aortic dissection. At trial the jury found defendants did not deviate from accepted standards of care, except for a third year resident and a cardiac sonographer. However, as to those defendants who were negligent, the jury determined their deviations did not increase the risk of harm, and, thus a verdict of no cause for action was returned. . On appeal, plaintiff argued that the Trial Court erred in denying plaintiff’s motion to limit the testimony of plaintiff’s treating surgeon, Dr. Krause because he provided expert testimony as to causation, although he was not named as a trial expert.

Regarding the “expert” testimony of Dr. Krause, the Appellate Division cited well-established New Jersey case law (Stigliano) permitting a treating physician to testify about a patient’s diagnosis, treatment, and cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Here, Dr. Krause placed the blame for causing the plaintiff’s injury on himself, stating the stroke suffered by plaintiff resulted from something he did intra operatively, and, that any delay related to the timing of the surgery did not increase the plaintiff’s the risk of developing a stroke. The mere fact that Dr. Krause’s testimony appeared to have carried great weight did not make his testimony inadmissible, particularly in light of the fact that plaintiff’s counsel also asked Dr. Krause several questions regarding causation.

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