Rule 26 Disclosure Requirements Apply To A Treating Physician If Offered For An Opinion Not Determined During Treatment
MEYERS v. NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORP. (AMTRAK)(August 30, 2010)
Greg Meyers was an Amtrak pipe fitter for years. It was a difficult job -- requiring lifting, twisting, reaching, etc., frequently in confined spaces. Meyers' size (approximately 350 pounds) made the job even more difficult. He started experiencing problems in 2004. He was referred to Dr. Rosseau, a neurosurgeon, who diagnosed him with cervical spondylosis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Rosseau performed carpal tunnel surgery in 2004 and back surgery in 2008. Dr. Tonino, an orthopedic surgeon, operated on his right shoulder in 2007. Meyers brought suit against Amtrak under the Federal Employers' Liability Act ("FELA"). He alleged that his injuries were caused by Amtrak's failure to use ordinary care. He relied on the Rosseau and Tonino expert reports and a report by his expert ergonomist. Judge Der-Yeghiayan (N.D. Ill.) granted partial summary judgment to Amtrak on statute of limitations grounds but then struck the reports of both doctors and the ergonomist. Without those reports and testimony, Meyers was unable to establish the elements of the offense. The court granted full summary judgment. Meyers appeals.
In their opinion, Judges Kanne, Williams, Hamilton affirmed. The Court addressed only the doctor expert issue. It stated that a party offering an expert witness who was retained to provide expert testimony in a case must comply with the requirements of Rule 26(a)(2). Those requirements include disclosing the bases of the expert's opinions and the reasons for them, which Meyers did not. The Court noted that it had never ruled on whether a treating physician is required to comply with those disclosure requirements if the subject of the opinion was not determined at the time of treatment. It concluded that a treating physician should be held to the same disclosure requirement if the physician is offered for testimony regarding the cause of injury and that testimony is based on a conclusion that was not made at the time of treatment. The testimony of Meyers' two doctors fits that definition and was properly excluded. Without those reports, there is no evidence of causation and summary judgment was appropriate.