The Second Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Dillon, determined affidavits by an orthopedist and a radiologist (Dr. Meyer and Dr. Coyne) submitted in support of defendant’s motion for summary judgment should have been accepted by Supreme Court as admissible evidence of proximate cause of plaintiff’s back injury, even though the orthopedist and radiologist were not qualified to offer an opinion on whether defendant chiropractor deviated from the appropriate standard of care. Supreme Court had rejected the affidavits on the ground the orthopedist and radiologist were not qualified to assess the level of care provided by the defendant chiropractor. However, the affidavits addressed only the issue of proximate cause, stating that plaintiff’s injuries pre-dated the alleged negligent treatment by the chiropractor. Because the assessment of proximate cause was within the orthopedist’s and radiologist’s areas of expertise, the affidavits were admissible. However, the denial of the defendant’s motion for summary judgment was affirmed because the defendant’s affidavit stating he did not deviate from the proper standard of chiropractic care was conclusory:
Physicians offering opinions in medical, dental, podiatric, chiropractic, or other specialty malpractice actions must establish their credentials in order for their expert opinions to be considered by courts. They do so by being specialists in the field that is the subject of the action, or if not specialists in the same field, then by possessing the requisite skill, training, education, knowledge, or experience from which it can be assumed that the opinion rendered is reliable … . Thus, when a physician offers an expert opinion outside of his or her specialization, a foundation must be laid tending to support the reliability of the opinion rendered … .
Here, the opinions of Dr. Meyer and Dr. Coyne would not be admissible on the issue of the defendant’s alleged deviation or departure from the standard of chiropractic care, as neither physician indicated any familiarity with the standards of chiropractic practice. However, the opinions of Dr. Meyer and Dr. Coyne were not proffered to address the issue of whether the defendant deviated or departed from the relevant chiropractic standard of care. Rather, the affirmations of both physicians were clearly and narrowly drawn to address only the separate element of proximate cause. Bongiovanni v Cavagnuolo, 2016 NY Slip Op 00638, 2nd Dept 2-3-16
NEGLIGENCE (MEDICAL MALPRACTICE, EXPERT AFFIDAVITS SHOULD HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED ON NARROW ISSUE OF PROXIMATE CAUSE)/MEDICAL MALPRACTICE (EXPERT AFFIDAVITS SHOULD HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED ON THE NARROW ISSUE OF PROXIMATE CAUSE)/EVIDENCE (MEDICAL MALPRACTICE, EXPERT AFFIDAVITS SHOULD HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED ON THE NARROW ISSUE OF PROXIMATE CAUSE)/EXPERT OPINION (MEDICAL MALPRACTICE, EXPERT AFFIDAVITS SHOULD HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED ON THE NARROW ISSUE OF PROXIMATE CAUSE)