United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE
CERTAIN TESTIMONY OF GARY HATFIELD, M.D.
Z. Singal United States District Judge
the Court is Defendant's Motion in Limine to Exclude
Certain Testimony of Gary Hatfield, M.D. (ECF No. 76). As
briefly explained herein, the Motion is GRANTED IN PART and
DENIED IN PART.
connection with the pending Motion, the Court has reviewed
Dr. Hatfield's September 7, 2016 expert report (ECF No.
76-1), which contains a summary of his proposed testimony. By
way of qualifications, Dr. Hatfield has practiced internal
medicine in Maine since 1989. As noted in his curriculum
vitae (ECF No. 76-2), he served on the Maine State Board of
Licensure in Medicine from 2001 to 2013.
Federal Rule of Evidence 702, Defendant asks this Court to
restrict Dr. Hatfield's testimony in four areas: (1) the
standard of care applicable to dermatologists; (2) the
American Medical Association's (AMA) ethical guidelines
for treating family members; (3) relevant provisions of the
Controlled Substances Act (CSA), 21 U.S.C. §§ 801
et seq.; and (4) the Defendant's state of mind
regarding the legitimacy of the medical treatment received by
his daughter. To aid the parties in preparing for trial, the
Court provides the following pretrial rulings on
Defendant's objections to Dr. Hatfield's testimony
regarding each of these four areas.
Standard of Care Applicable to Dermatologists
objection is overruled. The Court notes that Counts 6 through
58 will require the jury to consider and determine whether
Defendant issued each of the prescriptions charged
“outside the usual course of professional
practice.” United States v. Limberopoulos, 26
F.3d 245, 249 (1st Cir. 1994); see also 21 C.F.R.
§ 1306.04 (“A prescription for a controlled
substance . . . must be issued for a legitimate medical
purpose by an individual practitioner acting in the usual
course of his professional practice.”). Given this
standard, the Court concludes that Dr. Hatfield's
testimony on the applicable standard of care is undoubtedly
relevant. See United States v. Wexler, 522 F.3d 194,
204 (2d Cir. 2008) (“While failure to comply with the
standard of care applicable to a medical specialty does not
alone provide a basis for concluding that a physician's
activities fall outside the usual course of professional
practice, it surely is relevant to that determination.
Evidence of such failure to comply is relevant because it
makes that conclusion more probable than it would have been
without the evidence.”) Moreover, the Court is
satisfied that Dr. Hatfield's background and training
give him expertise regarding the standard of care of
physicians generally and the standard of care that would
apply to a specialty area of practice. Therefore, the Court
will allow Dr. Hatfield to testify regarding the standard of
care applicable to a dermatologist and opine on whether the
conduct alleged in this case falls within that standard.
AMA Ethical Guidelines on the Treatment of Family
objection is overruled. To the extent that Defendant objects
to Dr. Hatfield's testimony including a summary of the
AMA's guideline on the treatment of immediate family
members, the Court concludes that such testimony will assist
the jury in determining whether the conduct charged in Counts
6 through 58 falls “outside the usual course of
professional practice.” Limberopoulos, 26 F.3d
at 249. As explained in the Government's Response, the
AMA ethical guidelines are recognized as a “primary
source[ ]” by the Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine
even if they are not explicitly adopted as regulations
governing all Maine physicians. (See Gov't
Response (ECF No. 81) at 7.) Defendant's outlined
objection on this point is a matter that his counsel is free
to explore on cross-examination. (See Def. Reply
(ECF No. 91) at 5.) However, the Court is satisfied that
these AMA guidelines are relevant and will allow Dr. Hatfield
to testify regarding the AMA guideline regarding providing
medical care to family members.
Applicable Provisions of the CSA
objection is sustained in part. With respect to the
CSA-related testimony, the Government indicates that it also
anticipates calling a DEA representative to testify regarding
the regulations governing prescriptions for controlled
substances. (See Gov't Response at 5 n.1.) Given
that other available witness, the Court instructs the
Government to limit Dr. Hatfield's testimony to
discussing his professional understanding of the fact that
the CSA applies to physicians while leaving the CSA details
to the DEA witness.
Defendant's State of Mind
objection is sustained. The Court notes that, in response to
the pending Motion, the Government has indicated it does not
intend to ask Dr. Hatfield “to opine on the
defendant's state of mind when he wrote the prescriptions
at issue.” (Gov't Response at 7-8.) Given this
concession, the objection is sustained to the extent that the
Government shall not ask Dr. Hatfield any question regarding
the subjective mental state of the Defendant without first
raising the issue outside the presence of the jury.
See F.R.E. 704(b).
reasons just stated, Defendant's Motion is hereby GRANTED
IN PART and DENIED IN PART. These rulings are made WITHOUT
PREJUDICE to Defendant renewing any of his ...