Testimony of Orthopedic Surgery Expert Witness Excluded due to Lack Of Evidence About His Methods

Testimony of Orthopedic Surgery Expert Witness Excluded due to Lack Of Evidence About His Methods

A district judge in New Mexico struck the testimony of Defendant’s orthopedic surgery expert witness Paul Saiz due to lack of a record discussing the reasoning or methodology underlying his testimony.

Plaintiff’s injuries and damages in this case resulted from an automobile accident on July 11, 2021, in Grant County, New Mexico. At that time, Plaintiff was driving a 2021 Volvo tractor-trailer. He was at a stop in the westbound lanes of Interstate 10, near mile marker 36, due to a traffic incident near mile marker 35. Defendant Singh, operating a 2022 Freightliner tractor-trailer owned by Defendants Sunshine was traveling westbound on Interstate 10 near mile marker 36.

While performing his duties for Defendant Sunshine, Defendant Singh collided with the rear of Plaintiff’s trailer. He was driving at a high speed, without paying attention, and failed to hit the brakes. Due to the immense speed, Defendant Singh continued on his path of destruction after the collision with Plaintiff and struck other vehicles as well.

Since Plaintiff placed his “physical injuries in controversy,” Defendants requested a Rule 35 examination. This unopposed motion was quickly granted. Defendants hired Paul Saiz, an orthopedic surgery expert witness to conduct the Rule 35 examination. Following the issuance of the Rule 35 report, Plaintiff filed a motion and objected to some of Saiz’s opinions under Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and Daubert.

Specifically, Plaintiff objected to Saiz’s opinions in the areas of biomechanics, radiology, the Plaintiff’s prognosis, medical costs, and critiques of treating physicians. Plaintiff’s counsel acknowledged Saiz’s expertise in one field but argued that his expertise did not extend to other areas.

Orthopedic Surgery Expert Witness

Paul Saiz is the only board-certified orthopedic surgeon and board-certified spine surgeon in the state of New Mexico. His education can be traced back to the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, where he earned his Doctor of Medicine. He then completed his Orthopedic Residency in Phoenix, Arizona. Saiz also completed a Spine Fellowship in Reconstructive Surgery at Sonoran Spine Center in Phoenix and a Musculoskeletal Oncology fellowship at Rush/Presbyterian in Chicago, Illinois. In the instant case, Paul Saiz conducted an Independent Medical Examination on Plaintiff, pursuant to the Defendant’s motion under Rule 35.

Want to know more about the challenges Paul Saiz has faced? Get the full details with our Challenge Study report.   

Discussion By The Court

A. Expert Opinion Of Paul Saiz

Paul Saiz, in his report pursuant to Rule 35, stated there was no evidence of an acute cervical spine injury. Further, he opined that Plaintiff did not aggravate any pre-existing injury. He indicated that no further treatment was needed for the thoracic or lumbar spine. Therefore, any future care due to cervical surgery would not be related to the motor vehicle accident.

B. Defendant’s Arguments

Defendants’ counsel disagreed, arguing that Plaintiff’s view was far too narrow regarding medical costs, billing, and documentation efficacy. Defendants’ counsel claimed that Saiz’s CV alone demonstrated his expertise. However, this argument lost the Court’s favor. Despite suggesting that Saiz’s expertise could be explored through deposition, no deposition was ever scheduled. Considering Plaintiff’s Daubert challenges to Saiz’s expert opinion in his Rule 35 report and the absence of deposition testimony, the Court, in its gatekeeping role, had to schedule a pretrial evidentiary hearing regarding the admissibility of Saiz’s Rule 35 evaluation of Plaintiff.

C. Evidentiary Hearing

Considering Plaintiff’s objection to the expert’s opinions, Defendants needed to prove admissibility. The Court acknowledged Saiz’s qualifications in orthopedic surgery but remained uncertain about his expertise in biomechanics or radiology.

Additionally, the Court had no information about Saiz’s knowledge, skills, or experience in medical billing. It was unclear if he had direct involvement in medical billing or if his support staff handled it. Therefore, the Court could only speculate about Saiz’s potential testimony and credentials.

No evidence was presented regarding Saiz’s methods, testing, peer review, error rate, or independent research. This lack of information prevented the Court from determining if his reasoning or methodology was scientifically valid or applicable to the case facts, as required by Daubert. The Court found that Defendants had the opportunity to sufficiently develop the record on these issues but failed to do so.


Consequently, the Court granted Plaintiff’s motion to strike the opinions and testimony of Defendant’s medical expert Paul Saiz.

Key Takeaway:

The Court acknowledged Saiz’s qualifications in orthopedic surgery but was uncertain of his expertise in biomechanics, radiology, and medical billing. The Court needed more information on Saiz’s methods and research to determine the validity of his opinions. Defendants presented only arguments without any supporting evidence to validate Saiz’s opinions.

Case Details:

 Case Caption: Garcia V. Singh Et Al
 Docket Number: 2:23cv545
 Court: United States District Court, New Mexico, Las Cruces
 Order Date: June 11, 2024


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