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Florida Supreme Court’s rules on standard for admissibility of expert testimony in med mal cases

Previously on this blog, we began looking at the importance of expert testimony in establishing liability in medical malpractice cases, and the fact that different jurisdictions have different rules regarding the admissibility of expert testimony.

As we noted, Florida courts have used the Frye standard, which usually  makes it easier for plaintiffs to have expert testimony admitted. That’s why the Frye standard is generally favored by plaintiffs, while the Daubert standard is favored by defendants. Back in February, the Florida Supreme Court chose not to adopt the Daubert standard in a case, despite the fact that the Daubert standard has been adopted as Florida law. 

While the Daubert standard was adopted as law in 2013, Florida courts have so far avoided being bound by the standard to the extent that it is procedural law, as opposed to substantive law. The difference is that substantive law refers to the rules regarding how facts are to be dealt with in a case, while procedural law concerns the process by which substantive law is applied. While substantive law is generally the role of the legislature, procedural law is generally the domain of the courts.

It remains to be seen whether Florida courts will eventually end up adopting the Daubert as a procedural standard. If they do, physicians accused of medical malpractice stand to benefit. If the substantive-procedural dichotomy continues, though, plaintiffs will continue to enjoy a more favorable environment for the admission of damaging expert testimony. In any medical malpractice case, of course, working with an experienced attorney helps ensure that a physician builds the strongest possible case. 

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