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04/25/97 DEBRA REED v. JOHN HARRIS BOOZER

April 25, 1997

DEBRA REED
v.
JOHN HARRIS BOOZER, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order in the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, Family Division, No. DRO 91-4252. Before ALLISON, J.

Before: Mcewen, P.j., Cavanaugh, J., and Tamilia, J. Opinion BY Tamilia, J.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Tamilia

OPINION BY TAMILIA, J.:

FILED APR 25 1997

John Harris Boozer appeals from the January 30, 1996 Order confirming a prior Order, issued on October 30, 1995, which directed appellant to pay $75 per week in child support. The facts of this case are as follows.

On November 27, 1991, appellee filed an action against appellant for support of her son, Anthony S. Boozer. Appellant denied paternity and by Order dated February 13, 1992, the court ordered blood testing of the parties and the minor child. The testing did not exclude appellant from paternity. *fn1 Rather, it indicated a 99.90% probability that appellant was the father of the child. A jury trial was conducted on November 30 and December 1, 1994. In support of the blood testing report, appellee presented the testimony of Ronald Barwick, Ph.D., Associate Director of the Department of Paternity Evaluation at Roche Biomedical Laboratories, which conducted the testing. Appellant defended on the basis that his identical twin brother fathered the child. At the close of trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of appellee, and the aforementioned child support Orders were entered.

On appeal, appellant asserts the following two claims:

I. Whether the trial court erred in permitting an expert witness to testify about laboratory results from tests which he did not perform, supervise or have personal knowledge about?

II. Whether the trial court erred in charging the jury that genetic test results are considered prima facie evidence of paternity, that the term "genetic tests" includes any blood or tissue testing processes used to confirm or exclude parentage, and that the blood test results in this case should be considered prima facie evidence of paternity?

(Appellant's brief at 5.)

This is the first time this Court has been called upon to consider the enlarged definition of genetic tests, enacted by the Legislature in 1994, which states: "'Genetic Tests'. Includes any blood or tissue testing processes used to confirm or exclude parentage." *fn2 23 Pa.C.S. § 4302.

As to appellant's first claim, we note that the admission of expert testimony is a matter for the trial court, and its decision will not be remanded, overruled or disturbed unless there was a clear abuse of discretion. Tyus v. Resta, 328 Pa. Super. 11, 476 A.2d 427 (1984). Preliminarily, our review of the record convinces us that Dr. Barwick provided an adequate foundation for the blood test results. At the outset, Dr. Barwick was qualified as an expert in blood testing, and was accepted as such by the court (N.T., 11/30/94, p. 6). Further, Dr. Barwick testified as follows:

Q. [COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE]: What are some of your duties as an Associate Director [of the Department of Paternity Evaluation at Roche Biomedical Laboratories]?

A. Well, it's my job as Associate Director to help provide overall supervision of the department; to help decide on the procedures and protocols that are used in the testing of blood samples for paternity evaluation; to evaluate the results of those tests and to sign the reports indicating the results of those tests and then, when the occasion calls for it, to testify about those results in court cases such as this one.

(N.T. at 4.) Dr. Barwick also testified that he was an official custodian of records for Roche Biomedical Laboratories (N.T. at 15), and that he had "reviewed this report as it pertains to the laboratory records and it does accurately reflect what we did in the laboratory" (N.T. at 48).

In Mitchell v. Randall, 368 Pa. Super. 421, 534 A.2d 508 (1987), appellant challenged the admission of trial testimony from a supervisor of the lab which conducted blood testing. In affirming the trial court, a panel of this Court held:

Randall claims that the lower court erred in admitting the testimony of the medical expert because he did not actually perform the HLA blood test.

Our review of the record convinces us that an adequate foundation was laid for the introduction of the expert testimony. Appellant advances no case law or statute that would vitiate blood test results because the witness did not himself draw blood from the subjects or perform the tests but delegated these tasks to qualified technicians under his supervision. We find this issue to be without merit.

Id. at , 534 A.2d at 510. As his testimony indicates, Dr. Barwick not only supervised the lab, reviewed the test results in question and established the chain of custody, but he also was intimately familiar with, and helped to formulate, the procedures and protocols used to conduct the testing. In light of these facts, Dr. Barwick was properly permitted to testify concerning the test results and we reject appellant's claim to the contrary. See Miller v. Kriner, 341 Pa. Super. 293, 491 A.2d 270 (1985) (testimony of supervisor and general supervisor of testing lab constitutes adequate foundation for the introduction of blood test results, where those supervisors programmed the computers used to calculate the results); and Commonwealth v. Khamphouseane, 434 Pa. Super. 93, 642 A.2d 490 (1994) (proper foundation laid through testimony of laboratory director); see also ...


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