O?Connor v. Newport Hosp., 2015 WL 1225683 (R.I., Mar. 17, 2015)

Key Insight: Court vacated judgment in a medical malpractice case and remanded the case for a new trial where the trial justice admitted 3 exhibits without proper authentication, and exacerbated the error by allowing a biased, incorrect jury instruction which highlighted the information contained in the erroneously admitted exhibits, contributing to their prejudicial effect. Exhibits in question – whose purpose was to impeach plaintiff?s sole medical expert witness – were 2 printed versions of web pages, and a purported printout of an email, all of which were admitted over plaintiff?s objections after plaintiff?s expert witness was asked questions about their contents. With the record indicating no attempt to verify authenticity, no comments or findings from the justice with respect to authentication of any of the documents, nor indication on the record that defendant?s counsel made any representations to the trial justice regarding when or by whom the purported web page print outs were accessed and printed, the court concluded ?While we have not set a ?high hurdle to clear? with respect to authentication ? we hold that the trial justice abused his discretion by admitting exhibits A-C based solely on the brief testimony of one witness who was clearly unfamiliar with all three documents.?

Nature of Case: Medical malpractice

Electronic Data Involved: Email; Web page

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