Louisiana Record

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Judge rules testimony over recreational drug use should be limited in workers' compensation claim


By Takesha Thomas | Jul 31, 2019

Medical malpractice 09

NEW ORLEANS – A district judge has granted a request to exclude testimony regarding drug use in a worker's compensation claim. 

On June 11, Judge Susie Morgan for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana granted David H. Dotson's request to have testimony by two medical doctors for Atlantic Specialty Lines excluded or limited regarding his narcotics use. Morgan ruled that limited testimony by Dotson's treating physicians regarding drug use, prescriptions and his pharmacological history would be admissible.

"Any additional testimony on these issues by Drs. (David) Aiken and (Michael) McNulty would be cumulative," Morgan wrote. 

Dotson sued for personal injury damages after he was involved in a January 2015 auto accident with John Price. He also filed a worker's compensation claim against his employer, Pitts & Sons Inc., court papers state. As part of the claim, Atlantic retained two physicians to perform, "independent medical examinations" on Dotson. Within those examinations, both physicians notated Dotson's drug use. Information on the examinations, court paper say, were then forwarded by Atlantic for review. 

Citing Rule 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, attorneys for Dotson argued that the testimony of the two physicians, who made multiple references regarding Dotson's alleged "excessive" narcotics use, should be prohibited. Dotson argued that Atlantic should be limited to questioning Dotson’s treating physicians regarding their treatment decisions.

Morgan ruled that "such information may be relevant to the legal issue of causation because it relates to whether or not the accident caused Dotson’s need for shoulder surgery." 

Attorneys for Atlantic argued the information regarding Dotson's drug use is relevant based on the claim. Atlantic argued testimony of "Drs. Aiken and McNulty is relevant to whether the prescription narcotic pain medication that the plaintiff has been taking for several years is an appropriate amount,” and whether the amount of narcotic that Dotson was taking before the accident differs from the amount he took after the accident."

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Atlantic Specialty Lines of Louisiana

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