Can you tell a jury your negligent doctor is an alcoholic?
The Georgia Court of Appeals tackled this question in the recently published opinion Williams v. Booker.
The facts of the Williams v. Booker case are relatively straight forward. The doctor performed surgery on the plaintiff. Soon after the surgery, the plaintiff appeared jaundiced and was seen by a different doctor who discovered that the first doctor improperly placed surgical clips on the Plaintiff’s bile duct. The improper placement of the surgical clips caused damage to the Plaintiff’s bile duct.
Following the discovery of the surgical error, the Plaintiff also discovered that the doctor who performed the initial surgery was an alcoholic. The plaintiff wanted to be able to tell the jury about the doctor’s alcohol addiction, suggesting that alcohol may have contributed to the medical malpractice. The trial court agreed with the plaintiff and was going to allow the evidence of alcoholism at the trial of the case. Not happy with the trial court’s ruling, the doctor appealed that decision to the Georgia Court of Appeals. The Georgia Court of Appeals agreed with doctor.
The Georgia Court of Appeals said that evidence of a doctor’s alcohol addiction can only be admissible evidence if the jury could infer that the doctor was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the negligent treatment. In this case, there was no evidence that the doctor was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the surgery. Therefore, The Georgia Court of Appeals concluded the evidence that the doctor was an alcoholic was inadmissible.
Please follow Randall F. Rogers on Twitter.
Posted in: Medical Malpractice