Testimony Decision Jeopardizes 2,000 Lawsuits

Over 2,000 patient diagnosed with asbestos related diseases could have their lawsuits thrown out because the doctor who diagnosed them did not meet the qualifications for expert testimony. Doctor R. Michael Kelly, an internist with Mid-Michigan Physicians, was accused of being paid by the lawyers of the employees he diagnosed with asbestos illnesses. By the third week in November 2008, lawyers from the employers sought to have 80 of the cases diagnosed by Kelly thrown out of court on the grounds of false evidence. They claim that the diagnoses made by Kelly were disputed by radiologists. Kelly defended himself by noting that he used the data available to him at the time in order to reach his conclusions.

Often a diagnosis of a lung ailment from asbestos can be subjective due to the nature of the symptoms such as shortness of breath. Kelly notes that shortness of breath can be difficult to diagnose with any empirical data, since the degree is largely based upon the patient’s history and personal comfort level. Despite Dr. Kelly’s protests, Wayne County, Michigan, Circuit Judge Robert Colombo Jr. threw out the expert testimonies of Dr. R. Michael Kelly. Judge Colombo Jr. argues that Kelly’s testimony did not meet the requirements for an expert testimony. Now over 2,000 lawsuits in which Kelly made a diagnosis of asbestos illness find their plaintiffs searching for a second opinion. Most of these cases were still in the docket in Judge Colombo Jr.’s court and will be decided upon as they come to trial.