In 2011, the Wisconsin legislature adopted the federal “Daubert standard” that circuit courts must apply when deciding whether to admit an expert’s opinion into evidence. In this case, the Court’s first opportunity to interpret the standard, the justices issued 4 separate opinions. Abrahamson’s opinion established the history, purpose, and methodology of the Daubert standard. She held that an expert physician’s testimony about the standard of care for a family-practice doctor doing obstetrics satisfied Daubert though it was based solely on his own experience. Only the dissenting opinion disagreed with her analysis.
Due to a car accident, the plaintiff suffered a back injury and was told he might need surgery. After consulting a surgeon and speaking to his father who had the same surgery, the plaintiff became fearful about the pain and recovery time associated with the procedure. In a unanimous opinion, Abrahamson held that evidence of the plaintiff’s fear of possible future surgery was admissible and could be considered by the jury when determining damages for mental distress from the injury he sustained in the accident.