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Aikman v. Kanda
District of Columbia Court of Appeals
975 A.2d 152 (2009)
Evelyn Aikman (plaintiff) suffered a stroke during open-heart surgery to repair her mitral valve as a result of small particles somehow traveling to her brain. Aikman was convinced that the cardiac surgeon, Dr. Louis Kanda, either had not performed standard procedures known as air-drill procedures to remove air from her heart at the end of the surgery or had performed the air-drill procedures improperly. Aikman’s theory was that Kanda’s failure left air in her heart that then traveled to her brain and caused the stroke. Aikman sued Kanda for malpractice. At trial, Kanda testified that he had performed over 500 mitral-valve surgeries, that air-drill procedures were an integral part of the surgery, and that he had performed air-drill procedures every single time he had performed a mitral-valve surgery. The jury found for Kanda, and Aikman’s claims were dismissed. Aikman appealed, arguing that Kanda’s testimony that he always performed air-drill procedures in mitral-valve surgeries was inadmissible character evidence that Kanda was a careful person. Aikman also argued that even if the testimony qualified as habit evidence, habit evidence should not be admissible in a medical-malpractice case because a doctor never performs solely out of habit.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Thompson, J.)
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