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Advocate Challenges Medical Expert

Empire Justice Center October 31, 2019

Cross-examining so-called expert witnesses at Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearings can be challenging, to say the least. But Attorney Allison Zaloba of the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern NY (LASNNY) in Albany successfully challenged a medical expert (ME).

 

Allison’s client had complex medical diagnoses, including chronic liver disease, involuntary weight loss, digestive issues, malnutrition, and more. Despite over more than 5,000 pages of medical records, most if not all of the records were emergency room records.  The claimant had not received continuous treatment and did not have a primary care physician.  In addition, he had on-going drug and alcohol issues.

 

After the hearing, the ALJ sent interrogatories to an ME. The ME’s responses were sloppy and missed crucial diagnoses, so Allison requested a supplemental hearing.  At the supplemental hearing, Allison got the ME to admit he had not considered one of the biggest medical diagnoses – chronic liver disease. And he conceded he would need to reconsider his analysis in light of the new evidence she pointed out.

 

With the ALJ’s permission, Allison submitted a post hearing brief, in which she analyzed the ways in which her client met various listings. She also argued the ME’s opinion should be given no weight.  The ALJ agreed with Allison, and found the claimant met Listings 5.05 for chronic liver disease and 5.06 for inflammatory bowel disease.  He made no mention of the ME’s opinion in his decision.

 

Great work on the part of Allison, with help from law clerk Eileen Tchao of Albany Law School.