United States District Court, S.D. Florida, Miami Division
FEDERICO A. MORENO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
CAUSE came before the Court upon (1) Plaintiffs Motion to
Strike Expert Witness Testimony of Nicole Bonaparte (D.E.
35), filed on September 22, 2017,
and (2) Defendant's Motion to Limit the Testimony of
Plaintiff s Treating Physician (Dr. Kingsley Chin) (D.E. 42),
filed on September 25, 2017.
COURT has considered the motions, the responses, the replies,
the pertinent portions of the record, and being otherwise
fully advised in the premises, it is
(i) Plaintiffs Motion to Strike Expert Witness Testimony of
Nicole Bonaparte (D.E. 35) is GRANTED.
(ii) Defendant's Motion to Limit the Testimony of
Plaintiffs Treating Physician (Dr. Kingsley Chin) (D.E. 42)
is GRANTED in part and DENIED in
(a) Defendant's Motion is GRANTED to the
extent it seeks to prevent Dr. Chin from offering his opinion
about the cause of Plaintiff s injuries.
(b) Defendant's Motion is DENIED to the
extent it seeks to exclude Dr. Chin's testimony about the
reasonableness of Plaintiff s medical bills.
a personal injury case arising from an incident at a
Sam's Club store. Plaintiff Maluff alleges that an
employee of Defendant Sam's East, Inc. negligently pushed
a pallet jack loaded with merchandise into Maluff s back
while he stood next to his shopping cart. The incident
allegedly caused Maluff serious lower back injuries that
ultimately required him to undergo lumbar spine fusion
Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Expert Witness Testimony
of Nicole Bonaparte
East retained Nicole Bonaparte to provide expert opinions and
testimony on medical coding and billing. Bonaparte's
testimony is purportedly important "to audit and
evaluate the coding and billing practices of Plaintiffs
treating healthcare providers and the customary and
reasonable charges for the services rendered."
(Def.'s Resp. 3.) Sam's contends that Bonaparte's
"testimony as a billing and coding expert on
reasonableness of medical reimbursement is critical to
Sam's East's defense" and "[e]xcluding such
testimony would eviscerate one of the only damages defenses
available to Sam's East." (Id.)
challenges the reliability and relevance of Bonaparte's
testimony. His relevance argument alone provides sufficient
grounds for precluding Bonaparte's testimony. Although
Bonaparte may be qualified to opine on whether Plaintiffs
treating physicians double-billed for a certain procedure or
incorrectly charged for a certain injury, she cannot speak to
Plaintiffs injuries or the appropriateness of certain
East disputes that conclusion, noting that under Florida law,
"[a] plaintiff bears the burden of proving the
reasonableness of his medical expenses." Columbia
Hosp. (Palm Beaches) Ltd. P'ship v. Hasson, 33 So.3d
148, 150 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010). It relies heavily on the
Florida Court of Appeals' decision in State Farm Mut.
Auto. Ins. Co. v. Bowling, which held that a personal
injury plaintiff "must demonstrate that his or her
medical expenses are reasonable and necessary." 81 So.3d
538, 540 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2012). According to Sam's
East, Bowling compels this Court to permit
Bonaparte's testimony about the coding and billing
practices of Maluff s healthcare providers in order to rebut
Maluff s evidence of their reasonableness.
the Eleventh Circuit already rejected that argument in
Castellanos v. Target Corp., which involved
analogous personal injury claims based on Defendant's
alleged negligence. 568 Fed.Appx. 886 (11th Cir. 2014).
Despite Bowling's holding, the Eleventh Circuit
held that Judge Kathleen Williams did not abuse her
discretion by excluding similar billing and coding testimony
from Nicole Bonaparte-the same expert witness. Id.
at 886. The Court called Bowling "materially
different" because the defendant alleged that the
Plaintiff fabricated or exaggerated his injuries, ...