The orthopedist was on the witness stand last week. He was well credentialed as defendant’s expert: top schools, top training, top position.
And then came plaintiff’s cross examination. The issue was the relationship between disc bulges and disc herniations. The doctor said there was a difference. And that bulges were the result of degeneration, otherwise known as the aging process.
(Some doctors are (in)famous for calling everything degeneration, because, you know, we start to degenerate when we are born.)
Then plaintiff’s attorney, Harlan Wittenstein, posed a general question to the doctor about bulges and herniations being the same. He denied it.
But Wittenstein, a seasoned trial attorney, just happened to have, oddly enough, a 24 x 36 blow up of the doctor’s web page where that assertion existed. He got it into evidence as a prior inconsistent statement. This was the website language:
A herniated disc, also called a bulging disc, ruptured disc or slipped disc, occurs when the inner core of the spinal disc pushes out through the outer layer of the disc.
Herniation describes an abnormality of the intervertebral disc that is also known as a “slipped,” “ruptured” or “bulging” disc.
The doctor kept saying, and I paraphrase here since I don’t have the transcript, ‘I see that its in my website, but its not true. I didn’t write it. Someone else writes the content.’
You know what happens when you outsource your marketing? Your ethics and reputation get outsourced also. And this applies to everyone, not just lawyers.