Evidence–Medical Treatises To Be Admitted as Direct Evidence in Wisconsin–Lewandowski v. Preferred Risk Mutual Ins. Co.

Defendant’s attorney in a personal injury action sought on cross-examination to impeach plaintiff’s physician regarding his determination of the degree of plaintiff’s disability by referring to the medical standards set forth in the American Medical Association’s Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment–The Extremities and Back. Pointing to the physician’s testimony that he had not relied on the Guide in making his evaluation, the trial court sustained plaintiff’s objection that such cross-examination was not permissible. On appeal, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that the trial court was correct in sustaining the objection in accordance with the established rule that it is not permissible to cross-examine with respect to a medical treatise on which the witness did not specifically rely in giving his direct testimony. However, the court ruled prospectively that such cross-examination would be permitted, and, in addition, that medical treatises recognized by the medical profession as authoritative could be admitted as independent evidence “to prove the truth of a matter stated therein.”