Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Court Reviews Whether Defendants can use Trial Testimony Transcripts in Closing Arguments

CATHY L. CHAPMAN, ET AL. v. JAMES V. LEWIS, M.D., ET AL. (Tenn. Ct. App. July 28, 2010)

On April 10, 2000, William D. Chapman, II ("the Deceased") was involved in a motor vehicle accident. As a result of his injuries, he was admitted to Holston Valley Hospital and Medical Center in Kingsport where he came under the care of trauma surgeons, the defendants, James V. Lewis, M.D., and George M. Testerman, Jr., M.D., as well as other physicians and medical personnel.

The plaintiff, Cathy L. Chapman, brought this wrongful death action against the defendants based upon her allegation that they were guilty of medical malpractice in the treatment of her husband; she claims that their malpractice caused the death of the Deceased on April 15, 2000. Following eight days of a jury trial in July 2008, counsel for the parties made their closing arguments. During the defense's argument, counsel for the plaintiff objected when counsel for Dr. Testerman projected on a video screen what purported to be the Q. and A. trial testimony of the plaintiff's medical expert, Dr. Philip Witorsch. The trial court overruled the objection and thereafter the jury returned a verdict in favor of both defendants.

Later, the trial court, acting on the plaintiff's motion, reversed itself and held that the defendants failed to lay a proper foundation for the use of the projected testimony. The court also pointed out that the defendants failed to give the plaintiff prior notice of their intention to use portions of the trial transcript in closing argument. As a consequence, the court granted the plaintiff a new trial. The defendants appeal. We reverse the trial court's grant of a new trial and reinstate the court's judgment in favor of the defendants.

Opinion may be found at:

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