Thursday, December 5, 2013

Petrocelli v. Gallison case brief

Petrocelli v. Gallison case brief summary
679 F.2d 286 (1982)

The district court entered a judgment for defendant doctor in plaintiff patient's and his wife's medical malpractice action. The patient and wife appealed, asserting that excluded evidence in a medical record was admissible under the business records exception, Fed. R. Evid. 803(6).

The patient and his wife sought to prove their claim that the doctor severed the patient's nerve during a hernia operation through notations in a medical record that described the nerve as severed and mentioned the patient's concerns regarding pain from a transected nerve.


  • The court concluded that the district court acted within its discretion in determining that the hearsay statements could not be admitted as business records reflecting medical opinions or diagnoses under Fed. R. Evid. 803(6). 
  • The district court reasonably determined that it was not possible to tell if the statements were actually the opinions or diagnoses of the reporting physicians because the records themselves were inconclusive as to whether the reports reflected medical judgments rather than statements made by the patient in relaying his medical history and the patient and his wife failed to offer corroborative evidence that the statements were professional opinions. 
  • Further, in judging the reasonableness of exclusion, the risk that the excluded statements could have been misconstrued by the jury as definitive opinion testimony on the critical issue of whether the nerve had been severed was relevant.

The court affirmed the judgment.

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