Profession

Most of expert witness' suit dismissed

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted May 23, 2005

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A judge dismissed a California physician's defamation lawsuit he filed last year against three Florida doctors. Also dismissed was all but one claim against the Florida Medical Assn., which was named in the suit.

John Fullerton, MD, an internist and geriatrician from San Francisco, said the physicians and FMA defamed him and hurt his professional credibility when the doctors requested that the FMA review the expert witness testimony he gave for a plaintiff in a Florida malpractice trial. The three physicians were defendants in the case in which the jury found no negligence.

After the verdict, the doctors asked the FMA to review Dr. Fullerton's and another doctor's testimony under a program the FMA created to weed out improper expert witness testimony. The three said the physician expert witnesses presented false testimony and false theories about strokes.

Dr. Fullerton's suit challenges the medical expert peer review process that the FMA created. He says the program is an intimidation tactic that targets doctors who testify for plaintiffs. The FMA has said the process is confidential, like a typical peer review procedure.

Dr. Fullerton is appealing the judge's ruling to dismiss his case against the physicians. Because one claim against the FMA remains, Dr. Fullerton cannot appeal the claims that the judge did dismiss against the medical association, said James F. McKenzie, Dr. Fullerton's attorney based in Pensacola, Fla.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2005/05/23/prbf0523.htm.

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