KIM M. JOHNSON-KRUEGER, Plaintiff-Appellant,
ANGELA J. ALDRICH, Defendant-Appellee.
from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Jeffrey L.
Johnson-Krueger appeals the summary judgment order dismissing
her medical malpractice claim.
Johnson-Krueger, Sioux Falls, pro se appellant.
C. Tolsma of Heidman Law Firm, Sioux City, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ.
Johnson-Krueger sued Angela J. Aldrich, M.D., her
gynecologist, alleging she engaged in professional negligence
by performing an unnecessary hysterectomy. Johnson-Krueger
designated John David Sabow, M.D., a neurologist, as an
expert witness in her medical malpractice suit and attempted
to designate Kevin W. Hamburger, M.D., an expert witness due
to his prior evaluation of Johnson-Krueger. But when deposed,
Dr. Hamburger said Johnson-Krueger had not hired him as an
expert witness, he declined to testify as to the standard of
care in this case, and would only testify as to his care and
Aldrich moved for summary judgment, alleging Johnson-Krueger
could not establish a prima facie case of medical malpractice
because she did not designate an expert who could testify to
the appropriate standard of care. Johnson-Krueger resisted,
asserting Dr. Sabow's criticisms of Dr. Aldrich's
work were valid and Dr. Hamburger's inconsistent
diagnosis, compared to Dr. Aldrich's, is enough to prove
causation. The district court granted summary judgment,
[T]he deadline for designating expert witnesses has passed.
Dr. Sabow is a neurologist with no specialized knowledge
qualifying him to give a causation opinion as to medical
standards of care of an obstetrician/gynecologist. Similarly,
the mere fact that Dr. Hamburger arrived at a different
diagnosis does not by itself establish expert testimony as to
a breach of standard of care.
Although no motion to exclude the witnesses' testimony
has been filed, the Court finds that both witnesses would be
disqualified from testifying as to causation. Due to this
shortcoming, defendant has established that plaintiff's
proof will be deficient as to the causation element of the
plaintiff's case. As the plaintiff will not be able to
establish this element, the plaintiff's case fails as a
matter of law.
appeal, Johnson-Krueger asserts the district court abused its
discretion in granting Dr. Aldrich's motion for summary
judgment because Dr. Sabow's and Dr. Hamburger's
opinions create a question of fact that should be sent to the
establish a prima facie case of medical malpractice,
Johnson-Krueger must submit evidence that shows: (1) the
applicable standard of care, (2) a breach of the standard of
care, and (3) a causal relationship between the breach and
the harm the plaintiff allegedly experienced. See
Peppmeier v. Murphy, 708 N.W.2d 57, 61-62 (Iowa 2005).
Generally, a plaintiff must prove each element through expert
testimony. Phillips v. Covenant Clinic, 625 N.W.2d
714, 718 (Iowa 2001).
person need not be licensed in a particular area, or a
specialist in a particular field, to offer expert medical
opinion. Hutchison v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co., 514
N.W.2d 882, 886 (Iowa 1994). "It is not enough, however,
that a witness be generally qualified in a field of
expertise; the witness must also be qualified to answer the
particular question propounded." Tappe v. Iowa
Methodist Med. Ctr., 477 N.W.2d 396, 402 (Iowa 1991).
Here, Johnson-Krueger attempts to use Dr. Sabow's expert
opinion, as a neurologist, to show the hysterectomy was
unnecessary. The problem is Dr. Sabow has no experience in
gynecology, is not an expert on how to perform a
hysterectomy, and agrees a gynecologist has more knowledge
about whether a hysterectomy is needed than would a
neurologist. Because Dr. Sabow is not qualified to answer the
question of whether Dr. Aldrich breached the standard of
care, we agree with the district court that his testimony
cannot be used to prove the causation element of
Dr. Hamburger was Johnson-Krueger's initial physician;
however he only performed one evaluation, which returned
normal results. At the time of the evaluation, Dr. Hamburger
did not feel Johnson-Krueger's problem was gynecological,
but since she experienced pain, he recommended that she seek
additional care. At his deposition, he declined to opine on
whether Dr. Aldrich breached the standard of care or to act
as an expert witness, and said it was possible
Johnson-Krueger's condition worsened to the point where
she needed further gynecological treatment after his
one-and-only evaluation. Further, there is no record Dr.
Hamburger ever opined to the standard of care, ...