Expert Article Library

Case Name: Planned Parenthood v. Taft (

Court: Southern District of Ohio at Cincinnati; United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Date: April 13, 2006

Expert: Medical Doctor—Physician—Obstetrics, Gynecology. Dr. Susan Crockett, an expert in obstetrics, gynecology and the FDA approval process.

Issues: Must an expert witness have personally performed a certain procedure to be qualified to testify about it? What suffices to be an expert in the critical review of medical literature?

Summary of Case: Planned Parenthood claimed that an Ohio abortion law prohibiting the use of a certain abortion drug needed a health or life exception in order to be constitutional.

Role of the expert: Dr. Crockett testified for the State of Ohio.

Expert analysis: The trial court refused to allow Dr. Crockett to testify as an abortion expert because she had not personally performed any abortions. The State argued that performing elective abortion procedures is not a prerequisite to being an expert on such procedures. The trial court also refused Dr. Crockett’s testimony as an expert in the critical review of medical literature because Dr. Crockett did not have any specific training in the critical review of medical literature beyond the training incorporated in her general medical school and residency training.

The Sixth Circuit agreed with the State because an individual can acquire expertise through a variety of means other than actually performing the precise procedure at issue. The Court of Appeals disagreed with the lower court regarding Dr. Crockett’s background as a reviewer of medical literature because her residency program at Georgetown University put particular emphasis on training residents in the critical review of medical literature, she had taught classes on the subject, had done extensive reading and self-education on the subject and had critically reviewed medical literature for the FDA. The Appeals Court said that if these qualifications are not sufficient to demonstrate the required expertise, it would be difficult to imagine what qualifications would.

Summary prepared by M. Dellinger, Student, Golden Gate University School of Law