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Woolum v. Hillman

329 S.W.3d 283 (2010)

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Woolum v. Hillman

Kentucky Supreme Court

329 S.W.3d 283 (2010)

Facts

Lisa and Aaron Hillman (plaintiffs) sued Dr. Jerry Woolum (defendant) for medical malpractice. Woolum hired Dr. Butcher as an expert witness in the case. Butcher and Woolum had worked together for 20 years and had malpractice insurance through the same company. At his deposition, Butcher testified that he believed medical-malpractice cases caused malpractice premiums to increase, and he was openly hostile to medical-malpractice lawsuits. Butcher claimed that a corrupt medical-malpractice system had caused malpractice-insurance costs to rise so high in Mississippi that he was forced to leave the state. Butcher also said that he had noticed malpractice-insurance premiums starting to rise in Kentucky. The Hillmans sought to introduce evidence that Woolum and Butcher had the same medical-malpractice insurer. The Hillmans argued that sharing a malpractice insurer gave Butcher a financial incentive to argue that Woolum had not committed malpractice. After holding two hearings, the trial court admitted evidence of the shared insurance company to show Butcher’s possible bias. The jury found for the Hillmans, and Woolum appealed. On appeal, Woolum argued that all malpractice-insurance evidence should have been excluded.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Noble, J.)

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