Iowa Supreme Court Rules Expert’s Unsworn Signature Does Not Substantially Comply with Section 147.140’s Affidavit Requirement

Posted on: June 18th, 2024

The Iowa Supreme Court followed a history of enforcing timely sworn statements in reversing a recent district court’s decision denying defendants’ dispositive motions in a medical malpractice suit. Defendants asserted, “(1) the unsworn, signed letter did not comply with section 147.140’s affidavit requirement, and (2) the expert, an anesthesiologist, was unqualified to testify against the defendant surgeons or respiratory therapist because the expert was not licensed to practice in the same or substantially similar field as required under section 147.139.”  Plaintiff served the expert’s sworn declaration more than 90 days following the statutory deadline. The Court noted, “We reiterate that section 147.140 ‘unambiguously requires that the expert witness personally sign the certificate of merit under oath within sixty days of the defendants’ answer.’” (quoting Est. of Fahrmann, 999 N.W.2d at 287). The Court further noted that an expert’s sworn oath is essential to allow for the quick dismissal of unsubstantiated professional negligence claims stating, “This requirement can help weed out weak cases early when experts are deterred by the risk of criminal penalties for perjury and decline to sign the requisite certificate under oath.” The Court did not reach the issue of the expert’s qualifications.

See Case No. 22-1574: Darrin P. Miller, Individually, as Executor of the Estate of Meredith R. Miller, and as Parent, Guardian, and Next of Friend of S.M.M., a Minor v. Catholic Health Initiatives-Iowa, Corp. d/b/a MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center, William Nowysz, Joseph Losh, Hijinio Carreon, Noah Pirozzi, Danielle Chamberlain, and Daron Darmening

Read more news articles »