Smith v. Knowles
281 N.W.2d 653 (Minn. 1979)

  • Mrs. Smith was pregnant and suffering from a very serious condition known as eclampsia. Dr. Knowles failed to diagnose the condition or prescribe a drug to treat. Mrs. Smith died.
  • Mr. Smith sued Dr. Knowles for medical malpractice.
  • The Trial Court found for Knowles and dismissed the case. Smith appealed.
    • The Trial Court found that Smith failed to offer sufficient expert evidence for the jury to consider claims of negligence and causation.
  • The Appellate Court affirmed.
    • The Appellate court found that in order to establish a prima facie case for medical malpractice, the plaintiff must:
      • Introduce expert testimony to show the appropriate standard of care.
      • Introduce expert testimony to show that the doctor deviated from the standard of care.
      • Show that the deviation directly resulted in the injury.
    • Smith unsuccessfully attempted to prove the case by direct examination of Dr. Knowles and by introducing medical texts into evidence.
      • Smith introduced no evidence to suggest that if Dr. Knowles had diagnosed the condition earlier, the outcome would have been different.
      • Since you can’t cross examine textbooks, they can’t be used to provide expert testimony. It’s hearsay.