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Cross-Examination of Expert’s Financial Relationship with Insurers

February 16, 2021

In Graves v. Shoemaker the Supreme Court potentially widened the scope of inquiry as to the relationship between experts and insurance carriers. The trial court in Graves permitted plaintiff’s counsel to cross-examine a medical expert as to his prior relationship with defense counsel (as defense counsel had retained him in the Graves matter). However, the trial court barred the plaintiff in limine from examining the doctor as to his relationship with the defendant’s insurer (as the insurer did not retain the doctor directly).

The Supreme Court reversed, finding that the relationship between the insurer and the witness was relevant to bias. The defendant’s arguments that the doctor was not directly retained by the carrier and did not even know that the carrier would be paying his bill was carried no weight.

Based on the Graves’ ruling carriers and experts should expect increased discovery activity from counsel regarding frequency of use and gross forensic income from specific carriers. Also, Graves may craft an avenue for defense counsel to investigate the relationship between plaintiff’s counsel and treating (but testifying) physicians.