may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Sue A. Wruck, et al.,
Richard L. Rvsavy, M.D., et al.,
Filed October 20, 1998
Stearns County District Court
File No. C0962558
Roger J. Nierengarten, Nierengarten Law Offices, 1111 First Street North, P.O. Box 339, St. Cloud, MN 56303 (for appellants)
Corrine L. Evenson, Quinlivan & Hughes, P.A., 400 South First Street, 600
Norwest Center, P.O. Box 1008, St. Cloud, MN 56302-1008, and
Kevin S. Carpenter, Holmen & Carpenter, P.A., 26 Sixth Avenue North, St. Cloud, MN 56303 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Davies, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Short, Judge.
Four days after being treated for a viral flu infection by Dr. Richard Rysavy, Sue Wruck was hospitalized with pneumonia. Wruck remained in the hospital for 44 days, including 19 days on a respirator. Wruck and her husband sued Rysavy for medical negligence, alleging Wruck's injury resulted from Rysavy's failure to properly diagnose her illness and refer her to a specialist. A jury returned a special verdict awarding damages but finding no medical negligence. On appeal from the trial court's denial of their motion for a new trial, the Wrucks argue the trial court erred in: (1) giving a prejudicial jury instruction; and (2) limiting the cross-examination of an expert witness. By cross-appeal, Rysavy argues the trial court erred in: (1) awarding only part of his claimed costs and disbursements; and (2) requiring the jury to assess damages after finding Rysavy not negligent. We affirm.
We will reverse a trial court's evidentiary rulings or its decision on post-trial motions only for a clear abuse of discretion. See Uselman v. Uselman, 464 N.W.2d 130, 138 (Minn. 1990) (evidentiary rulings); Jack Frost, Inc. v. Engineered Bldg. Components Co., 304 N.W.2d 346, 352 (Minn. 1981) (new trial motions). When reviewing a denial of a motion for new trial, we determine whether the denial involved a violation of a clear right or a manifest abuse of judicial discretion. Hertz v. Hertz, 304 Minn. 144, 146, 229 N.W.2d 42, 44 (1975).
The Wrucks also argue the trial court abused its discretion in limiting the cross-examination of Rysavy's expert witness. See Minn. R. Evid. 703(b) (admitting underlying expert data when inquired into on cross-examination); Minn. R. Evid. 705 (requiring disclosure of facts or data underlying expert's opinion if inquired into on cross-examination). Although Minn. R. Evid. 703 and 705 permit disclosure of facts underlying an expert's opinion on cross-examination, such evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury. Minn. R. Evid. 403; see Ramsey County v. Miller, 316 N.W.2d 917, 921 (Minn. 1982) (noting Minn. R. Evid. 403 may be used to exclude relevant but substantially prejudicial evidence). Here, the Wrucks attempted to admit reports containing withdrawn and prejudicial opinions of Rysavy's medical treatment of Sue Wruck. The Wrucks contend certain parts of these reports were necessary to test the credibility of the expert witness. However, the record shows: (1) the expert witness never testified to relying on these reports in forming his medical opinion; (2) the Wrucks knew of the reports' prejudicial impact because they elected not to call the author of the reports as a witness; and (3) the Wrucks attempted to admit the reports in their entirety, rather than only those parts relevant to testing the expert's credibility. See Levienn v. Metropolitan Transit Comm'n, 297 N.W.2d 272, 274-75 (Minn. 1980) (refusing to admit medical reports by means of cross-examination unless expert relied on reports in formulating opinion). Given these circumstances, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in limiting the Wrucks' cross-examination.