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Paul Woodson v. Darlene GO, M.D., et al., Case No. 5D13-3311 (5th DCA)

In Woodson, the Fifth District receded from a prior opinion in Lake v. Clark to the extent Lake held that with only very broad limits, all qualified expert opinion testimony in a medical malpractice case is to be permitted, even if it is cumulative to other evidence. On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the trial court improperly limited the presentation of expert testimony to one expert for standard of care and one expert for causation.

The Fifth District noted that as a general rule, the limitation of expert witnesses is a matter of discretion for the trial court. The plaintiff argued that based on the Lake decision, medical malpractice cases present unique situations where it is almost always improper to limit expert witness testimony based on cumulativeness. The Fifth District in this case, however, found that there is no reason to permit litigants in medical malpractice cases to have an almost unfettered right to present cumulative expert witness testimony. The court further noted that Fla. Stat. sections 90.612 and 90.403, and Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.200 afford the trial judge the ability to exercise control over the presentation of evidence to avoid needless consumption of time and cumulative evidence. None of the statutes or rules, however, create an exception for medical malpractice cases, the Fifth District noted. The court consequently found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it limited the presentation of expert witnesses to one for standard of care and one on causation. The court additionally noted that the trial court should have notified the parties of its decision to impose restrictions on expert testimony at a time earlier than on the eve of trial. Litigants are entitled to fair notice of restrictions on expert testimony so that they may prepare their case accordingly.

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