08/03/2021 - US Expert News: Arizona Supreme Court's Decision on Sufficient Expert Witness Testimony

An Arizona Supreme Court decision says medical malpractice lawsuits involving unclear
causes of death or other injury can't proceed without sufficient expert witness testimony providing guidance for jurors.

The court's decision arose from the 2012 death of a boy of fours years, sent home from surgery after being monitored for an hour after a tonsillectomy and another procedure that included administration of general anesthesia.

Arizona law require that medical malpractice 'plaintiffs provide testimony on what caused
a death or injury unless a jury could make that determination from ‚Äúreadily apparent circumstances.‚ÄĚ

In the case arising from the tragic death of the boy, an expert witness for his mother said a longer observation period was appropriate and might have prevented her son's death, while the defendants argued that the exert witness didn't cite a specific standard of care violation that resulted in the death.

With a dispute over whether an infection or an obstructed airway caused the boy's death,
it would have been improper to have jurors untrained in medicine “connect the dots" without adequate expert testimony to outline an argument, the Supreme Court said. The high court's decision upheld a trial judge's dismissal of the suit.