Daubert Standard On Expert Testimony Reevaluated By Florida Supreme Court

The Florida Supreme Court has ruled on the Daubert standard regarding admissibility of expert testimony.  2013 changes to the Florida Evidence Code put Daubert into effect. Used in federal courts and over half of US state courts, Daubert charges the trial judge to make an assessment of whether an expert’s scientific testimony is based on reasoning or methodology that is scientifically valid and can properly be applied to the facts at issue. Florida’s 2017 high court found that the Daubert standard’s “same specialty” requirement for expert witnesses places an undue burden on medical negligence plaintiffs. In Re: Amendments to the Florida Evidence Code, No. SC16-181, February 16, 2017, the Florida Supreme Court declined to adopt the Same Specialty Amendment as legislated in 2013.

10. Prior to the Same Specialty Amendment, section 766.102(5)(a), Florida Statutes, required an expert testifying about the prevailing standard of care in a medical malpractice action to:

(1) specialize in the same specialty as the health care provider against whom or on whose behalf the testimony is offered, or

(2) specialize in a similar specialty that includes the evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment of the medical condition that is the subject of the claim and have the prior experience treating similar patients.

The Same Specialty Amendment removed the similar specialty option for qualifying a standard-of-care expert witness from the statute… The Committee and commenters in this case contend that requiring a standard-of-care expert witness to specialize in the same specialty, rather than the same or similar specialty, as the health care provider against whom or on whose behalf the testimony is offered has “a chilling effect on the ability to obtain expert witnesses,” making it more difficult for a victim of medical negligence to bring a medical malpractice action.

The February 16, 2017 opinion may be found here http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2017/sc16-181.pdf

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