Dr. Whitehouse concludes testimony as expert witness
The testimony of Spokane pulmonologist Dr. Alan Whitehouse resumed, after an early afternoon recess, with a vigorous cross-examination by defense attorney David Bernick.
Bernick began by discussing the “publicity” surrounding the 1999 Seattle Post-Intelligencer articles and the flow of patients into Whitehouse’s office. Whitehouse testified that over 50 percent of the roughly 1,800 people he saw had no connection to the mine itself.
Speaking to an exhausted looking jury, Bernick displayed several exhibits to be admitted as evidence – all of which were. Among them were documents from Whitehouse and other doctors regarding the diagnoses of patients, including Mel Parker, Lerah Parker and Wendy Challinor.
With each piece of evidence, Bernick compared Whitehouse’s differing medical opinion with those of other pulmonologists and radiologists who also looked at each patient. Assuring Whitehouse that he wasn’t calling into question his professional opinion, Bernick pointed out that “reasonable minds can come to different conclusions about how to read the CT scans.”
Often growing frustrated with the wording of Bernick’s questions, Whitehouse responded by saying that he takes into account many more factors when diagnosing than do radiologists. “The radiologist’s read the films …you’re trying to make these guys out to be diagnosticians,” he said.
Bernick also questioned Whitehouse on a number of definitions, including asbestosis – “asbestos-induced pulmonary parenchymal fibrosis, with or without pleural thickening.”
Following Bernick’s forceful cross-examination, prosecutor Kris McLean began his redirect examination of Whitehouse. However, the barrage of objections on the grounds of foundation and relevance from the defense seemed to leave the jury completely confused.
During the redirect, Whitehouse again testified about the major difference in diagnostic procedures between pulmonologists and radiologists. Radiologists do not sit down and put their hands on patients as he does during his diagnosis, Whitehouse said.
Just before McLean finished his questioning he brought to Molloy’s attention an elderly juror who was coughing profusely and seemed to be choking on something. The juror assured Molloy that he was fine.
Molloy concluded the day by reminding the jury not to discuss the case, read or watch any news, do any individual research, or to make up their mind about what the verdict should be until they’ve heard all the evidence. “Keep an open mind until then,” he said.
Court will be in recess until 9 a.m. Monday morning. Court will be in session four days a week for the next three weeks.
– Chris D’Angelo (posted 8:05 p.m.)