Legal Memorandum: Exclusion of Expert Testimony in MS

Issue: Under Mississippi law, does the court have discretion to preclude expert testimony if the expert’s response does not have substance?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Expert testimony; Exclusion; Expert's response
Jurisdiction: Mississippi
Cited Cases: 564 So. 2d 1346; 514 So. 2d 332; 437 So. 2d 426; 751 F.2d 1484
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 04/01/2001

           Where the supplemental answer is so unresponsive that the “response is of absolutely no substance,” Denman v. Hardy, 437 So. 2d 426, 429 (Miss. 1983), the proper remedy is the exclusion of the witnesses.  “Vague or unresponsive answers to interrogatories cannot be tolerated if the process of discovery is to survive as a reasonable method of discovering the information requested in the interrogatories.  One of the principal reasons for permitting interrogatories for pretrial discovery of the opinion held by experts and the substance of their testimony is to prevent trial by ambush and surprise. . . .” Square D Co. v. Edwards, 419 So. 2d at 1329.  The trial court in Edwards permitted the experts to testify even though the substance of their testimony had not been provided prior to trial.  The supreme court reversed and remanded for a new trial.

In Palmer v. Biloxi Regional Medical Ctr., 564 So. 2d 1346 (Miss. 1990), the plaintiff’s medical expert failed to attach the medical records and other documents he relied on to form his opinion.  Id. at 1358.  This failure was a substantial factor in the court’s decision to exclude the testimony.

The documents on which an expert relies in formulating his opinion are an important–perhaps the most important–aspect of examining the factual basis, if any, for the expert’s opinion.  See e.g., Williams v. Dixie Elec. Power Ass’n, 514 So. 2d 332, 337 (Miss. 1987) (expert must base […]

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