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Chiropractors

Admissibility Rate: .333    (1/3)

Taulbee v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No. 99-6690 (6th Cir. Feb. 21, 2001) (unpublished).  Jury finds for defendant in slip-and-fall after plaintiff's chiropractor is barred from testifying using AMA guidelines to describe plaintiff's impairment.  Exclusion affirmed.  District court did not abuse discretion in holding that testimony invoking AMA guidelines should come from licensed physicians, not chiropractors.

Ueland v. United States, 291 F.3d 993 (7th Cir. 2002) (see the briefs).  Government chase car rear-ends prison van.  Prisoner from van sues under Federal Tort Claims Act, alleging that collision caused him to suffer back and neck injuries, and offers testimony from Jason William, chiropractor cum acupuncturist.  Government objects that chiropractor/acupuncturist is unqualified to testify re etiology of back and neck injuries.  District court refuses to apply Rule 702 or to conduct Daubert hearing, and holds that chiropractor's qualifications go only to weight.  Court rules similarly when government offers prison physician, Dr. James Reed, to testify that prisoner's injuries predated accident.  After trial, district court finds conclusorily that plaintiff has not carried his burden of proof that government's negligence caused his injuries or damages.  Admissibility reversed.  District court's cursory "findings" of fact are too general and vague to satisfy Fed. R. Civ. P. 52(a), and so case must be remanded for retrial and findings compliant with that rule.  It was error to hold that qualifications of experts went only to weight, and on remand district court must conduct Daubert analysis.  Plaintiff's chiropractor will probably flunk Daubert analysis, and government's physician may pass, depending partly on whether his expertise includes soft-tissue and back injuries.

Kudabeck v. Kroger Co., 338 F.3d 856 (8th Cir. 2003).  Did customer's fall in grocery store cause her advanced degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis?  To show causation, customer offers testimony from her chiropractor, Dr. Brian Reilly.  District court admits testimony and jury awards damages to customer.  Admissibility affirmed.  Defendant concedes chiropractor's qualifications but contends that his testimony did not rest on reliable principles.  However, chiropractor performed legitimate differential diagnosis, ruling out other potential causes, and relying on medical tests as well as patient's medical history.  Defendant complains that chiropractor cited no studies establishing that falls can trigger degenerative disc disease.  But medical experts need not always be able to invoke published literature in support of general causation.  Moreover, jury could have found causation based entirely on testimony from plaintiff's other experts.

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