Maynard, Chief Justice, dissenting:
I dissent in this case
because I believe the majority has lowered the standard for admissibility
of expert testimony in sexual harassment cases. While it is not necessary
for a plaintiff to prove incidental damages in sexual harassment cases by
expert testimony, when a plaintiff alleges that the conduct at issue proximately
caused special medical damages, as in this case, expert medical testimony
is required. However, according to Syllabus Point 8 in the majority opinion,
the admissibility of such expert testimony will be determined based
upon the nature and extent of the witness's education, training, and expertise. The
potential application of this new standard is unlimited. For example, a person
educated to be a counselor for school children could provide medical testimony
in these types of cases even though he or she has no specific training in
the diagnosis of psychiatric conditions.
I believe that when a plaintiff
such as Ms. Akers seeks damages for a specific medical condition which she
contends arose from the alleged sexual harassment, expert testimony from
a medical doctor is required. A psychologist like Dr. Geronilla in this case, whose credentials limit her to the discipline of counseling, is clearly
not qualified to make a clinical diagnosis of a psychiatric medical condition.
Thus, I fail to see how she could render an opinion that the plaintiff's
major depression, acute situational anxiety, and post- traumatic stress syndrome
were caused by the alleged conduct of Mr. Ball. Yet, under the new law created
by the majority in this case, she may be able to render such testimony during
the trial of this case.
I think that a more stringent standard for expert testimony is needed in these types of cases. Such a requirement would not place an unreasonable burden upon the plaintiff. There are at least fifteen psychiatrists in the Charleston area alone, and I am sure that a more extensive search would reveal many more qualified medical experts.
Accordingly, for the reasons set forth above, I respectfully dissent.