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Quirion v. Forcier

632 A.2d 365 (1993)

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Quirion v. Forcier

Vermont Supreme Court

632 A.2d 365 (1993)

Facts

Peter Quirion started having chest pains in his late 20s. Quirion saw several doctors in the Newport area where he lived, but the chest pains continued. Quirion then traveled to get another opinion from Dr. R. Jackson Forcier (defendant). Forcier did not believe Quirion’s chest pains were related to coronary-artery disease and recommended some tests for possible esophageal reflux. A month later, Quirion died of a heart attack caused by blocked coronary arteries. Quirion’s estate (plaintiff) sued the Newport doctors, Forcier, and Forcier’s clinic (defendant) for malpractice. The estate hired Dr. Alan Markowitz as its chief expert witness. Initially, Markowitz gave deposition testimony placing primary blame on the Newport doctors for Quirion’s death, finding little fault with Forcier. The estate then settled with the Newport doctors, leaving only the claims against Forcier and his clinic for trial. However, after the settlements, Markowitz’s position was that Forcier was responsible for Quirion’s death. Forcier wanted to use evidence of the settlements to argue that Markowitz was biased and had changed his testimony only because the other doctors had settled. Over Quirion’s objection, the trial court admitted evidence that the settlements had happened, but not the settlement amounts, for the sole purpose of attacking Markowitz’s credibility. The trial court then instructed the jury to use the settlement information to evaluate only Markowitz’s credibility and not Forcier’s alleged negligence. The jury found for Forcier and his clinic, and the claims against them were dismissed. Quirion’s estate appealed, arguing that the settlement evidence should have been excluded completely.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Dooley, J.)

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