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Griffey v. Adams

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division

July 17, 2018



          Thomas B. Russell, Senior Judge United States District Court

         This matter comes before the Court upon Motion by Plaintiff Sherrie Griffey, (“Griffey”), to exclude a proposed expert witness, Dr. John Grady, pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 702. [DN 52.] This matter is ripe for adjudication and, for the reasons that follow, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Griffey's Motion [DN 52] is DENIED.

         A. Background

         1. Factual & Procedural Background

         This case arises out of the former patient-doctor relationship between Griffey and one of Defendants, Dr. William Adams, (“Adams”), a doctor of podiatric medicine who focuses on foot and ankle problems and is board certified in foot and ankle surgery. The following quoted section is taken from this Court's previous Memorandum Opinion, Docket No. 59:

Griffey suffered from pain in her left foot, an ailment for which she sought treatment from Adams. [DN 1, at 1-2.] Throughout the course of their doctor-patient relationship, “Griffey had had previous treatments for her left foot paint with Adams including stretching, icing, shoe changes, inserts and two corticosteroid injections…, all with no improvement….” [Id. at 2.] Thereafter, on August 31, 2015, Adams instructed Griffey that she suffered from “chronic plantar fasciitis, left and large infracalcaneal heel spur, ” and discussed the option of surgical intervention with her. [Id.] Griffey decided to proceed with the surgery, which took place at [Defendant] Lourdes [Ambulatory Surgery Center, LLC] on September 15, 2015. [Id. at 2-3.] Adams conducted the surgery. [Id. at 3.]
Griffey's pre-operation surgery order, electronically signed by Adams, provides “operative consent” concerning “plantar fascia release with heel spur resection-left foot.” [DN 44-3, at 1.] Likewise, Lourdes's consent form, signed by Griffey, authorized Adams to perform “the following operation or procedure: plantar fascia release with heel spur resection left foot.” [DN 44-4, at 1.] However, when Adams began the surgery at Lourdes at approximately 12:08 p.m., [DN 44-8, at 11 Day Dep., p. 16], “[a] tourniquet was placed about her right thigh.” [DN 44-5, at 1 (Lourdes Procedure Note) (emphasis added).] Then, “[a]n ankle block was performed on the right extremity, ” and “[t]he right lower extremely was then prepped and draped in usual sterile fashion.” [Id.] Thereafter, “[a] skin incision was started” on Griffey's right ankle, at which time the anesthesiologist present in the operating room “related that his chart said left [ankle.]” [Id.] “The nurse, [Dana Day, (“Day”)], again checked the cart, and the chart did say left, ” and so Adams stitched up Griffey's right foot and commenced the correct operation on Griffey's left foot. [Id. at 1-2.]
In her Complaint, Griffey alleges that, as a result of the operation and the erroneous incision made by Adams into her right foot, she was rendered immobile, as “both her left and right feet had surgical wounds and weight bearing restrictions.” [DN 1, at 4.]

[DN 59, at 1-2.]

         Subsequently, Griffey filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of liability concerning both Adams and Lourdes for her claims of negligence, gross negligence, and battery against both of them. This Court held that liability for ordinary negligence and battery had been established with respect to both Defendants. Around that same time, Adams and Lourdes filed motions for partial summary judgment on the issue of gross negligence and, relatedly, the availability of punitive damages to Griffey. This Court held that Griffey's claim for gross negligence and punitive damages against Lourdes must be dismissed, but that a factual dispute remained concerning Adams. Thus, the remaining issues in this case pertain to damages (as well as apportionment issues related thereto) concerning Lourdes's and Adams's established liability for negligence and battery, as well as Griffey's remaining claim for gross negligence and punitive damages against Adams, on which a genuine dispute of material fact remains. Now, Griffey has filed a Motion seeking to exclude the testimony of one of Defendants' expert witnesses, Dr. John Grady, (“Grady”), pursuant to Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.

         2. Dr. Grady's Background & Opinion

         Grady is a doctor of podiatric medicine, who currently works as a clinical professor in the Department of Podiatric Surgery and Applied Biomechanics at the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. [DN 36-2, at 1 (Grady Curriculum Vitae).] In addition to his current position, Grady's curriculum vitae indicates that he has held numerous teaching positions, both in the clinical area as well as the research area. [Id.] He has been the Director of the Podiatric Surgical Residency program for the VA Chicago Healthcare System since November 1987 and has been the Chairman of the Division of Podiatric Surgery at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Chicago since September 2001. [Id. at 1-2.] Grady received his Bachelor of Science from Loyola University Chicago in 1976, his D.P.M. from the Illinois College of Podiatric Medicine in 1980, and thereafter completed a surgical residency at the Youngstown Osteopathic Hospital in Youngstown, Ohio. [Id. at 5.] Grady also completed a fellowship in the area of peripheral vascular disease and plastic surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in 1982. [Id.]

In his expert witness disclosure, Grady stated that his opinion is as follows:
[b]ased upon my education, training, background and experience, as set forth in the attached Curriculum Vitae, it is my opinion that Dr. Adams provided reasonably competent and appropriate care to Mrs. Griffey by proceeding to operate on her left (correct) foot, for which informed consent had been given, while she was still under the effects of anesthesia. Following the incision which had been made upon the right foot, it was medically reasonable to proceed to finish the procedure which had been planned and authorized, as opposed to allowing time for Mrs. Griffey to sufficiently awaken from anesthesia to discuss the situation and obtain informed consent a second time, thereby avoiding further exposure to anesthesia.

[DN 36-1 (Adams's Expert Witness Disclosure, Aug. 30, 2017).] In its expert witness disclosure, Lourdes incorporated Grady's opinion by reference. [DN 39, at 1 (Lourdes's Expert Witness Disclosure, Sept. 5, 2017).] Griffey now argues that Grady's proffered testimony is (1) irrelevant, and (2) unreliable, and so should be excluded by the Court. The merits of Griffey's Motion are discussed below.

         B. ...

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