Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

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Mariam Toraish, as the administrator of her deceased five-year-old son Adam’s estate, instituted a medical malpractice action against James J. Lee, M.D. and his practice. Lee had performed a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy surgery upon Adam, who died that same day from cardiac arrhythmia. Toraish’s complaint alleged that Adam was at a high risk for postoperative respiratory compromise and that Dr. Lee violated the applicable standard of care by failing to order that he be monitored overnight following surgery. During trial, the trial court allowed the expert testimony of Simeon Boyd, M.D., a board-certified pediatric geneticist, who opined that Adam highly likely died of “cardiac arrest due to Brugada syndrome.” The jury returned a verdict in favor of Dr. Lee and his practice. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Dr. Boyd’s testimony should not have been admitted because it was based upon an assumption that had no basis in fact. Remanded for a new trial. View "Toraish v. Lee" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a proposed malpractice complaint alleging that Defendant’s medical and surgical treatment of Plaintiff’s wife failed to meet the appropriate standard of care, resulting in her death. In addition to the complaint, Plaintiff submitted to the Medical Review Panel (MRP) his wife’s medical records and a narrative statement. The MRP found that Defendant had met the applicable standard of care. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a complaint in court. Plaintiff named as an expert a hematologist who was expected to testify that Defendant had failed to prescribe the appropriate dosage of anticoagulation medication. Defendant moved to strike the hematologist’s opinion on grounds that Plaintiff’s submission to the MRP did not allege malpractice relating to the anticoagulation medication and so Plaintiff could not pursue the claim in court. The trial court denied the motion. The Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding that Plaintiff was allowed to raise theories of alleged malpractice during litigation following the MRP process. The Supreme Court granted transfer and adopted and incorporated by reference the Court of Appeals opinion, holding that the Court of Appeals’ opinion was consistent with Miller v. Memorial Hospital of South Bend, Inc. View "McKeen v. Turner" on Justia Law

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Dennis Willard was seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident. Defendant was treated at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC). Willard claimed that while undergoing an abdominal CT scan, UIHC was negligent in its handling of him. After the CT scan, a UIHC employee filed a Patient Safety Net (PSN) form about the incident. Willard filed a medical negligence lawsuit against the State and requested discovery of the PSN and related documents. The State objected to the disclosure of the materials on the grounds they were privileged. The district court granted Willard’s motion to compel and ordered the State to produce the documents. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the PSN and related documents were privileged under the mobility and mortality statute and were therefore not subject to discovery. Remanded. View "Willard v. State" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought a cause of action against a practice group and an orthopedic surgeon (collectively, Defendants), alleging medical malpractice during a spinal surgery. After the expiration of the pertinent statute of limitations, Plaintiff sought to amend his complaint. Plaintiff’s original complaint included allegations of the improper usage of a skull clamp, but his proposed amended complaint included allegations of the improper use of a retractor blade. The trial court narrowly construed the original complaint as limited to a claim of the negligent usage of the skull clamp and denied Plaintiff’s request to amend. Because Plaintiff had abandoned the theory that negligent use of the skull clamp had caused his injury, the court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The Appellate Court reversed the trial court’s denial of Plaintiff’s request to amend, broadly construing the original complaint as a claim of negligence in performing the surgery, which could be supported by either set of factual allegations. The Supreme Court affirmed, thus denying Defendants’ request that the Court adopt the narrower approach used by the trial court. View "Briere v. Greater Hartford Orthopedic Group, P.C." on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Mississippi Supreme Court’s review centered on the interplay between the wrongful-death statute and the minors savings clause. In 1999, the Court held “[t]here is no question now that the savings clause, set out in [Section] 15-1-59 of the Mississippi Code, applies to a wrongful death action” brought under Section 11-7-13 of the Mississippi Code. Three years later, the Court found reason not to apply the minors savings clause to the wrongful-death action filed in “Curry v. Turner,” (832 So. 2d 508 (Miss. 2002)). Instead, the Court found the two statutes to be “at irreconcilable odds with one another where there exists a person qualified under the wrongful death statute to bring suit.” In the present wrongful-death lawsuit, the defendants relied on “Curry” to claim the action was time-barred. They argued the minor savings clause did not apply because the minor beneficiaries had a maternal aunt who “qualified under the statute to bring suit.” Notwithstanding that, the Supreme Court found a material distinction between “Curry” and this case: in “Curry,” not only was the minor beneficiaries’ mother qualified to bring suit, but she also in fact filed a wrongful-death action. Thus, under Section 11-7-13’s “one-suit” requirement, the Supreme Court found the minor beneficiaries could not rely on the application of the minor savings clause to file what essentially would be a second wrongful-death action. But here, by contrast, the minor beneficiaries’ aunt never filed a wrongful-death action, though Section 11-7-13 authorized her to do so as the deceased’s sister. Instead, the first and only suit filed was by the deceased’s children. In this case, the Court held that only when someone who is qualified to bring a wrongful-death suit actually files a wrongful-death suit on the minor beneficiaries’ behalf will the minor savings clause not apply, because, once the suit is filed, the running of the statute of limitations is immaterial. The minor savings statute clearly applied in this case; the deceased’s oldest child had two years from when she reached the age of majority to file a wrongful-death suit based on medical negligence. Because she timely filed within this two-year period, the Supreme Court affirmed the denial of the defendants’ motion for summary judgment and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Pioneer Community Hospital of Newton v. Roberts" on Justia Law

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Collins, a regular heavy drinker, had suffered alcohol withdrawal, and kept a bottle of Librium to treat withdrawal and anxiety. Collins had Librium with him when he was arrested for DUI. The jail physician, Dr. Al‐Shami, who approved Collins’s use of the Librium while in custody. Collins was taken to a cell; officers checked on him every 15 minutes. The next day Collins began to complain of shaking from alcohol withdrawal. He was given Librium and vitamins. By lunchtime, Collins was better and eating normally. In the afternoon, he began to complain again. A nurse called Dr. Al‐Shami, who ordered that Collins be given the normal treatment for alcohol withdrawal. After being treated for additional incidents, Collins was taken to the hospital. The examining physician concluded that Collins was not suffering from delirium tremens. Collins was returned to the jail. Collins continued to display strange behavior, interspersed with periods of normalcy. Officers continued to check on Collins every 15 minutes. Eventually, Collins was again taken to the hospital. Collins was hypothermic, had low blood pressure, and was suffering from dehydration, sepsis, and acute respiratory failure. He was in a medically‐induced coma for several days. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the defendants in Collins's suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, concluding that the level of care was reasonable. View "Collins v. Al-Shami" on Justia Law

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While lifting a heavy door at his prison job in 2008, Cesal heard a “snap” in his back and felt pain in his leg and hip. He sought treatment from the prison’s medical staff but was dissatisfied with their response. He alleged that he received a three-year runaround, during which his pain was ignored, that the Clinical Director canceled Cesal’s insulin prescription in retaliation for Cesal’s filing a complaint about the inadequate care. Without the prescription, Cesal, an insulin-dependent diabetic, was unable to control his blood sugar and suffered additional pain and harm. He filed a second complaint with the prison about the insulin deprivation. Cesal, acting pro se, sued the Clinical Director and another Pekin physician. At the screening phase, 28 U.S.C. 1915A, the district court identified an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim and a First Amendment retaliation claim related to the withholding of insulin. The court granted the defendants summary judgment, reasoning that the statute of limitations had run and that, in any event, there was no question of material fact that would justify allowing his case to proceed. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, acknowledging that "Cesal’s allegations are troublesome," but noting important differences between ordinary, or even aggravated, medical malpractice, and an Eighth Amendment violation View "Cesal v. Molina" on Justia Law

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Appellant Sean Wright, a former inmate of the Alaska Department of Corrections (DOC) who was incarcerated at an out-of-state correctional facility under contract with DOC, filed a medical malpractice and 42 U.S.C. 1983 civil rights action against officials employed by the out-of-state correctional facility and by DOC. The civil rights claims alleged that the corrections officials were deliberately indifferent to Wright's medical needs. The superior court granted summary judgment dismissing the medical malpractice action as barred by the two-year statute of limitations. Subsequently the court granted summary judgment on the deliberate indifference claims against the inmate. In the course of the proceedings, Wright unsuccessfully sought to have the superior court judge removed for alleged bias. Wright appealed these decisions. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Wright v. Anding" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs alleged that an infection developed after negligent medical treatment was provided by the defendants. Accordingly, they filed a Request for Medical Review Panel and, subsequently, a lawsuit. The Supreme Court granted the plaintiffs’ writ application to determine whether the medical review panel complaint was sufficient to survive an exception of prematurity. After review, the Court found the brief descriptions of malpractice contained in the complaint were broad enough to encompass the specific allegations contained in the petition for damages. Thus, the Court reversed the lower courts’ grant of the exception of prematurity and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Coulon v. Endurance Risk Partners, Inc." on Justia Law

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This medical malpractice case arose from the death of Lyric Pitts, seven month old daughter of plaintiffs David Pitts, Jr. and Kenyetta Gurley. A jury found in favor of defendant Dr. Rhoda Jones. Plaintiffs moved for a Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict (JNOV), or alternatively for a new trial. The district court granted the JNOV and conditionally granted the new trial. The court of appeal reversed and reinstated the jury's verdict. The Supreme Court granted plaintiffs' writ application to review the correctness of the lower courts' rulings on the JNOV and new trial. After its review, the Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeal's ruling reversing the district court's grant of the JNOV. However, the Court reversed the ruling of the court of appeal relative to the new trial, finding no abuse of discretion in the district court's grant of a new trial. View "Pitts v. Louisiana Medical Mutual Ins. Co." on Justia Law