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Weil v. Seltzer

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
873 F.2d 1453 (D.C. Cir. 1989)


Facts

Martin Weil, 54, died unexpectedly. For 20 years, Weil’s doctor, Dr. Seltzer (defendant), had prescribed him steroids, while telling Weil that the medicine was antihistamines. Weil’s autopsy was consistent with long-term steroid use, and it was determined that Weil’s death was a result of illnesses caused by steroid use. Weil’s estate (plaintiff) brought suit against Seltzer and during discovery it was determined that Seltzer continually prescribed steroids to a number of his patients while telling them that it was antihistamines. The district court admitted, over Seltzer’s objection, testimony of five former patients of Seltzer under Rule 406 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. The patients testified that Seltzer had prescribed them steroids while telling them that it was antihistamines. The district court ruled that Seltzer’s prescription of steroids in this manner was a habit and thus the testimony was admissible. The district court ruled in favor of Weil’s estate. Seltzer appealed on the grounds that the testimony was improperly admitted.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Gibson, S.J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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