The Risks of an Expert Witness Using Too Much Boilerplate Language in Their Report

– The other thing is, I’ll just tell this because it just happened to me, the boiler plate, boilerplate reports are deadly. Anybody know what a boilerplate report is? What’s a boilerplate report is? Someone.

– There are a few paragraph of all the exclusions or kind of what you typically do.

– Okay. Anybody else want to try.

– It’s a report that’s put together from pretyped paragraphs and phrases and sentences, where you just stick it together and plug it in.

– Now as we say that, stick it together and plug it in, doesn’t really sound that good, does it? Doesn’t sound good at all. So I had this person again, a person, another expert in trouble, in worker’s compensation cases, long story short, they tried to disqualify him from testifying. Why? He used a lot of boilerplate, a lot. They got five of his reports, each one was eight pages long. They were all about similar kind of conditions. And all the reports were almost exactly the same. I mean, when I say exactly the same, I mean word for word. So it would say, like, “This person suffered a very severe injury at work.” “This person suffered a very severe injury at work.” He was innocently, he was innocently. I mean, paragraph after paragraph, the same.  I go, “How the hell did this happen?” He goes, “Well, I used standard language and maybe I got carried away a little bit.” You know, whatever. I go, well, and they were trying to disqualify him, saying that he was biased and involved in fraud or whatever they were trying to say. And eventually, they settled the case. He was lucky. You really got to change your act here, because this is not going to fly. This is not a good idea.  I mean, it was really, when you put all the reports down on the table, it wasn’t just a paragraph, like an introductory paragraph. The introductory page and a half, okay. And then, he would have a paragraph about head injuries that’d say, “Mr. Wilson, blah blah blah.” Okay. He suffered a severe head injury when he had subdural hematoma, blah blah blah. The next case would say the same thing, exactly. So I go, “Yeah, you really got to get your act together, because you’re not going to be practicing long as an expert witness doing this kind of work.” You’re really —

– Attorneys keep those reports. I mean, you testify if you’re an examiner that testifies a lot and does a lot in the way of reports, and again, we’re talking about the same names we see all the time, attorneys will hold onto your reports in different cases. And I’ve seen experts get cross examined with, “Wait a second, exact same facts,” or “Look, this is same languages you have in all three reports, doctor. How do you explain that?” So people do keep track. They will watch for that kind of thing.

– I cross examined, when I was practicing a doctor once. He had a bunch of reports that were very similar and he didn’t put headers or footers on them, on the top, the name of the patient. So what I did was I ripped the reports apart, and then I asked him, “Which reports these pages came from.” He couldn’t tell me  because they were all the same. So that doesn’t look too good either, when you can’t even tell me what report the pages come from. Had another report where this wasn’t a worker’s compensation case where another tremendous use of boilerplate was actually a lifecare plan, and these people who do the lifecare plans use enormous amount of boilerplate. It’s like a 70 page report and 60 pages of boilerplate. Some crazy amount like that. So he was, I was doing a demonstration in front of — the company hired me to see if they had any quote, vulnerabilities, okay, which as you might suspect, they did. And so, I asked, “Do you standard the language here, doctor?” He goes, “Well, what do you mean standard the language?” “Same language over and over again.” He goes, “Well, we use some standard language.” Well, let’s look at your report. Pages one through three, that’s standard language, right? Yeah. So I ripped out of the report, crumpled it up, through it in a pile on the floor. Okay. Page four has some original content, right Okay. Let’s leave that. Page six through nine is all boilerplate standard language Right. Okay. Take it, throw it on the floor. Before we finished, there was a big pile of crap on the floor. Pile of pages of all the same. And the head of the company, who’s in back of the room went ballistic. He’s like, ‘Okay. Stop it. Stop it. Enough. We get the point. We can’t do this anymore.’ So be very, very, very cautious about having reports that all look the same. Okay. It’s not a good idea. You are going to be strictly cross examined about that, and there’s no reason you can’t have an introductory paragraph. My name is Dr. Jones. I’m qualified as a neurologist in the following regions. That’s fine. But don’t have, you know, ten reports that say exactly the same thing.