The United States District Court, S.D. Illinois recently dealt with a case involving the plaintiff, Schmelzer, who was driving his vehicle and collided with a semi-tanker. The plaintiff suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of the collision.

Several expert witnesses were involved in the case.  At the pre-trial stage of litigation, the Court heard five Daubert motions seeking to exclude the testimony of several of the expert witnesses identified by the parties. Ultimately, the Court denied all five motions.

An expert witness life care planner, Carol White, was retained by the plaintiff.  White, a nurse practitioner, offered a life care plan which utilized the cost of name-brand medications as opposed to the generic brand in her analysis. The court found this analysis did not deviate from accepted methodologies and therefore allowed White to testify as to her life care plan and underlying analysis considering the costs of name-brand medications.

Specifically, the Court stated:

Carol White is a nurse practitioner who has offered life-care plan testimony in more than 100 depositions in lawsuits involving injured victims. She has testified in approximately 10 trials and estimates that she has completed hundreds of life care plans. As a nurse practitioner, she performs physical examinations, makes medical diagnoses, orders tests, coordinates care with referring specialists, and prescribes medication. Defendants argue that she is not qualified to offer life-care plan expert testimony, but her background and experience suggest otherwise. She is a supervisory nurse practitioner at a medical clinic and has extensive experience developing life-care plan reports, and that satisfies the undersigned as to her qualifications.

Defendants also challenge White’s methodology. To reach her conclusions, White reviewed Schmelzer’s medical records and related documents and did an in-person assessment of his condition. She conducted interviews with his treating physicians and medical experts. She explained her rationale for choosing between generic and name-brand medications in her methodology, noting that she opted for name-brand medications to allow for new medications that may be introduced in the future. There is little before the Court to allow the undersigned to discern in what ways White’s method deviated from accepted methodologies for developing life-care plans, and the issues raised by Defendants are best addressed through cross-examination. As a result, the motion to exclude Carol White’s testimony is denied.


For a full copy of the Court’s opinion, click: