Suit Against Expert Fails

Plaintiff was injured in a car wreck. She brought an uninsured motorist claim and was subjected to a psychological evaluation at the insistence of her insurer. The evaluator “testified that he believed that Gilbert experienced actual pain relating to the 1994 accident, but that a personality disorder complicated the pain and caused Gilbert to over-report symptoms. He concluded that while Gilbert did not have a major psychiatric disorder, she did have a histrionic personality disorder with narcissistic features that causes her to exaggerate and magnify the degree . . . of pain that shes in and to magnify the degree of disability that she has.”

Plaintiff lost that case and then filed one against the evaluator.

The Alaska Supreme Court affirmed dismissal of the suit, holding that the evaluator’s testimony was privileged. It said that”[t]estimony in a judicial proceeding, if pertinent to the matter under inquiry, is absolutely privileged, even if given maliciously or with knowledge of its falsity. Even defamatory testimony is privileged, and the witness granted immunity, because of the public policy rationale that the privilege leads to more just trials by (1) encouraging more witnesses to come forward and (2) ensuring that witnesses will be more open and honest in testifying.” (Footnotes omitted.)

Read the full decision in Gilbert v. Sperbeck here.