Creanga v. Jardal

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In Creanga v. Jardal, 185 N.J. 345, 886 A.2d 633 (2005), the New Jersey Supreme Court held that an expert had been improperly excluded before trial by the lower courts.

The plaintiff claimed that:

an automobile accident was the proximate cause of her premature labor and the resultant death of one of her twins. In support of her claim, she offered the expert opinion of her treating physician who stated that the accident caused the miscarriage. He based that opinion on a differential diagnosis of plaintiff's injury, that is, he identified the accident as the proximate cause of plaintiff's injury after the elimination of other alternatives. In reaching his conclusion, the physician considered various factors including his treatment of plaintiff before, during, and after the premature labor and plaintiff's medical records.

Prior to trial, defendants filed a motion to preclude the physician's testimony, arguing that it was a "net opinion," which is an opinion based on bare conclusions untethered to facts. The trial court granted defendants' motion and dismissed the complaint. The Appellate Division affirmed. We, however, conclude that an expert opinion derived from a differential diagnosis is admissible under the New Jersey Rules of Evidence. As applied here, the physician's expert testimony was based on a properly conducted differential diagnosis. We also hold that the physician's opinion is not a net opinion, and, therefore, the lower courts improperly excluded his testimony. As a result, we reverse and remand the matter to the trial court for reinstatement of the complaint.

185 N.J. at 349-50, 886 A.2d at 635.