Case Study

Conflict of interest

At issue was the tool used in a biopsy of the sphenoid sinus: The patient claimed an endoscope should have been used in the procedure, while the doctor had opted for surgical loupes. To make the case that the endoscope was the better option, opposing counsel brought in an expert from Chicago who had written extensively on the benefits of doing sinus surgery using endoscopes.

“He was a hard witness. He was mean and cranky, and when I took his deposition, I thought: How am I going to get this guy?” Sara recalled.

She started reading everything the expert had ever written on endoscopic surgery. At Lincoln Derr, the attorneys pride themselves on not delegating research to other members of the team. As Sara puts it: “We read all 4,000 pages, if necessary. We don’t give that to somebody else in our office to then put together a summary for us. We know every inch of the evidence before we set foot in a courtroom.”

That’s how Sara discovered the fine print at the end of each of the expert’s articles. It was a disclosure statement indicating that he had deep connections with the industry and was essentially being paid by the companies that manufacture endoscopes.

“We took that disclosure statement and blew it up for every single article he published, and I cross-examined all of his articles and said, ‘Here’s the statement you disclosed to the people who are going to rely on your literature, letting them know that the endoscopic industry was paying you to say these things,” Sara recalled. “How long have you been on the witness stand in this courtroom, telling all of these people that my client should have used an endoscope? When were you going to give themthe disclosure?”

The result: another win for Lincoln Derr.

“The guy actually wrote me a letter afterward, apologizing to my client for having served as an expert against him,” Sara recalled. “That was a phenomenal moment.”

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Sara Lincoln

Sara Lincoln is the co-founder of Lincoln Derr and serves at the helm of the firm leading all practice groups through active counsel, litigation, and advising. She is known for her tenacity in the courtroom and focuses her practice in the areas of complex business and medical malpractice litigation. Ms. Lincoln is a proud fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers – one of the greatest honors for trial lawyers practicing in North America.