Pre-Trial Hearing Requirements For Frye-Reed Challenge
August 4, 2020
Maryland’s second highest court recently held that a trial court did not commit reversible error by failing to hold a pre-trial hearing to determine the admissibility of the plaintiff’s expert testimony. In Burks v. Allen, a patient developed necrosis of the colon after being administered a medication. In a subsequent medical malpractice action, it was alleged that the treating physician was negligent in administering the medication. The defendant doctor filed a motion requesting a Frye-Reed hearing to determine if there was a sufficient foundation to support plaintiff’s expert’s opinion that the medication caused the injury claimed. (The Frye-Reed test applies to the admissibility of expert opinion in Maryland.) The court, however, never scheduled a Frye-Reed hearing. On the morning of trial, the court, after considering documents submitted in connection with the physician’s motion, ruled that the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony did satisfy the Frye-Reed standard. On appeal, Maryland’s second highest court ruled that although it is preferable for a Frye-Reed hearing to be scheduled prior to trial, there was no harm to the treating physician by failing to hold such a hearing under the facts of the case in question.