an appeal from a judgment rendered by the Circuit Court No.
2016-16283 of Fairfax County.
Phillip Gross and William Plastic Surgery and Spa Services
Company, LLC (hereinafter referred to collectively as
"Dr. Gross") appeal from the judgment entered by
the circuit court on a jury verdict returned in favor of
Supen Peze Stuart. Upon consideration of the record, briefs,
and argument of counsel, the Court is of the opinion that
there is no reversible error in the judgment of the circuit
brought a medical malpractice action against Dr. Gross
alleging that he negligently performed a blepharoplasty
procedure,  resulting in permanent injury to the right
levator muscle and leaving Stuart functionally blind in her
right eye. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Stuart and
awarded $800, 000 in compensatory damages. The circuit court
entered a judgment order, which was suspended by subsequent
order to allow the filing of post-trial motions. After
briefing and argument on post-trial motions, the circuit
court entered a final order denying the motions, and the
previously suspended judgment order went into effect. This
first assignment of error, Dr. Gross asserts that the circuit
court erred in denying his motion in limine and in permitting
Stuart to cross-examine the defense medical expert, Dr. John
Pitman, regarding matters that were the subject of a
disciplinary proceeding against Dr. Pitman.
to trial, Dr. Gross moved to exclude matters referenced in a
consent order entered into by Dr. Pitman with the Virginia
Board of Medicine (the "Consent Order").
Specifically, the Consent Order outlined the Board's
findings of fact and conclusions of law with regard to
certain instances in which Dr. Pitman violated the Virginia
laws and regulations concerning his medical practice in
Virginia that occurred in connection with his deployment to
Afghanistan. Dr. Gross argued that the evidence should
be excluded on the grounds that it was not relevant,
collateral to the relevant issues, and unduly prejudicial.
The circuit court denied Dr. Gross's motion, finding the
evidence relevant, and observing that Dr. Gross "can
rehabilitate [Dr. Pitman] with whatever you need to on
redirect" and instructed Stuart that "it
shouldn't be mentioned in the voir dire or opening."
The circuit court further instructed Stuart that she should
advise the court before "going down that path."
trial, Dr. Gross called Dr. Pitman as an expert and directed
him to review with the jury his education, training,
licensing, board certification, honors, awards, and teaching
and practice experience. Dr. Pitman described his practice
during military deployment, the number of his deployments,
his treatment of combat injuries, and major reconstructions
following combat type injuries. In reliance on his background,
knowledge, and experience, Dr. Pitman rendered several
opinions, including that Dr. Gross complied with the standard
Stuart's cross-examination, she advised the circuit court
of her intention to ask Dr. Pitman "about a series of
actions where he was cited by the board of medicine for
violation of law and health regulations with regard to his
practice" without asking Dr. Pitman about any sanctions.
Over Dr. Gross's objection, the circuit court permitted
Stuart to question Dr. Pitman about certain findings set
forth in the Consent Order.
prefaced her inquiry by asking Dr. Pitman to agree that he
had given certain opinions regarding "how you would
expect a reasonably prudent surgeon to practice in
Virginia," "that all doctors practicing in Virginia
should practice within that standard," and "that
practicing within the standard of care would include
complying with state laws concerning the practice of medicine
and regulations of the board of medicine." Without
expressly referring to the Consent Order, Stuart then
proceeded to ask Dr. Pitman whether during his deployment to
Afghanistan, certain facts regarding his medical practice in
Virginia were true. Stuart also asked Dr. Pitman to agree
that he "had an opportunity to either admit or deny
these allegations in an administrative hearing and [he] chose
to not deny these allegations." On redirect, Dr. Pitman
addressed the matters raised by Stuart and explained the
circumstances surrounding his deployment, the placement of
his patients, and the status of his Virginia medical practice
during his deployment.
conclude the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in
determining that this evidence was relevant to the jury in
determining the weight accorded to Dr. Pitman's opinions
and in permitting the cross-examination of Dr. Pitman on
regard to the admission of evidence, the responsibility for
balancing the competing considerations of probative value and
prejudice rests in the sound discretion of the trial court.
The exercise of that discretion will not be disturbed on
appeal in the absence of a clear abuse." Lombard v.
Rohrbaugh, 262 Va. 484, 492 (2001) (citation omitted).
"[W]hen a decision is discretionary . . . the court has
a range of choice, and . . . its decision will not be
disturbed as long as it stays within that range and is not
influenced by any mistake of law." Martin v.
Lahti, 295 Va. 77, 88 (2018) (quoting Landrum v.
Chippenham & Johnston-Willis Hosps., Inc., 282 Va.
346, 352 (2011) (citations and internal quotation marks
omitted) (alteration in original). "A great deal must
necessarily be left to the discretion of the [trial court],
in determining whether evidence is relevant to the issue or
not. Evidence is relevant if it has any logical tendency ...