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Podiatrists can’t testify about causation, court holds

In a decision that may soon be mooted by the General Assembly, the Supreme Court of Virginia has upheld the exclusion of podiatrist testimony about the cause of a plaintiff’s foot injuries.

Under the Virginia Code, podiatrists are not qualified to testify as experts regarding “the cause of a human physical injury,” the court holds in Hollingsworth v. Norfolk Southern Rwy Co.

Two bills at the General Assembly (SB 82 and HB 723) would add language clarifying that “diagnosis” is part of the practice of podiatry, effectively removing the barrier to causation testimony under the court’s opinion. The bills both have been amended to also bar podiatrists from testifying against medical doctors in malpractice actions.

The legislative fix will be too late to help Joseph Hollingsworth. The railroad worker claimed foot injuries from his job. When a Roanoke judge excluded causation testimony from two treating podiatrists, his case was dismissed. The Supreme Court today affirms dismissal.

By Peter Vieth

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