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Court of Appeals Toughens Expert Affidavit Requirements

The Georgia Court of Appeals in Zarate-Martinez v. Echemendia, 2015 WL2386611 (Ga. App. May 20, 2015) affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's complaint for failing to file an affidavit meeting the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 9-11-9.1. The Court held that pursuant to O.C.G.A. §24-7-702(c), in a professional malpractice action, the plaintiff must present an affidavit of an expert that has actual professional knowledge and experience in that area of practice or specialty in which the opinions to be given as a result of having regularly engaged in active practice of such area or specialty of his or her professional for at least three of the last five years with sufficient frequency to establish an appropriate level of knowledge as determined by the judge in performing the procedure.

Here, the expert stated only that she had performed many procedures. She did not explain what type of procedure or quantify the number of procedures she had performed in the relevant time period. The Court held that "many" is too vague to establish the expert's professional knowledge.

The decision will be helpful to dismiss complaints where the expert affidavit does not specifically set forth the specific type of procedure performed and the specific number of procedures performed.

Richard Tisinger, Jr.

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