Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court granted a writ of prohibition directing the circuit court to transfer venue of this third-party medical negligence action from Tucker County to Monongalia County, holding that this cause of action arose in Monongalia County, and therefore venue for the underlying action, as pleaded, lay solely in Monongalia County.Emily Heckler stabbed her stepmother Marion to death two days after she was discharged from Chestnut Ridge Center in Morgantown, where she had received psychiatric treatment. Mark Heckler, Emily's father and the administrator of Marion's estate, brought this claim in Tucker County under W. Va. Code 55-7B-9b of the Medical Professional Liability Act against Petitioners - West Virginia University Hospitals, Inc. and West Virginia University Board of Governors. Heckler filed a motion to dismiss for improper venue or, in the alternative, to transfer venue to Monongalia County. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding (1) under W. Va Code 55-7B-9b, venue is established on where the cause of action arose; and (2) venue is only proper in the county in which the healthcare was rendered with allegedly willful and wanton or reckless disregard of a foreseeable risk of harm to third persons. View "State ex rel. W. Va. University Hospitals, Inc. v. Honorable Nelson" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Joanna Grabowski brought claims for medical malpractice against Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Southern California Permanente Medical Group, and various associated physicians (collectively, Kaiser). The claims were heard by an arbitrator, pursuant to a contractual arbitration agreement. After a contested hearing, the arbitrator awarded judgment in favor of Kaiser. Grabowski petitioned the trial court to vacate the arbitration award, alleging: (1) the arbitrator committed misconduct, and revealed disqualifying bias, by engaging in an ex parte communication with Kaiser’s counsel about Grabowski’s self-represented status; (2) the arbitrator failed to disclose two matters involving Kaiser where he was selected as an arbitrator; and (3) the arbitrator improperly denied Grabowski’s request for a continuance of the arbitration hearing. The trial court found that “the arbitrator’s conduct did not rise to a level that substantially prejudiced [Grabowski’s] rights” and dismissed her petition. Grabowski appealed. After review, the Court of Appeal agrees the award should have been vacated. The Court concluded the arbitrator committed misconduct on several levels, at least one required vacating the arbitration award. The ex parte communication between the arbitrator and Kaiser’s counsel was recorded by Grabowski’s mother as part of her effort to document the arbitration hearing; the audio recording revealed comments by the arbitrator making light of Grabowski’s self- representation and her inability, in the arbitrator’s view, to effectively represent herself. The arbitrator volunteered these comments to Kaiser’s counsel, ex parte, and “they shared a hearty laugh about Grabowski’s perceived shortcomings as an advocate.” Because the arbitrator was aware of this communication and did not disclose it to Grabowski, the award had to be vacated. View "Grabowski v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals vacating a jury award of $500,000 against Dr. Shabbir Choudhry for loss of household services, which Petitioner alleged she would have received from her adult daughter, who died after having received medical treatment by Dr. Choudhry, holding that the court of appeals did not err.In vacating the jury award, the court of appeals held that, in a wrongful death action, a parent could recover economic damages for loss of household services but that Petitioner had presented insufficient evidence to have the claim submitted to the jury. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that, in order for a parent of a deceased child to recover pecuniary damages for household services under the Wrongful Death Act, Md. Code Cts. & Jud. Proc. 3-901 to -904, the parent must present evidence not only that they reasonably expected to receive services from the adult child but that the child intended to continue providing those services. View "Fowlkes v. Choudhry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiffs' lawsuit against their doctor based on Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-1906(a), holding that section 60-1906(a) does not violate the right to trial by jury guaranteed by section 5 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights or the right to a remedy guaranteed by section 18 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights.Plaintiffs sued their obstetrician, asserting that Defendant breached the applicable duty of care by failing to detect fetal abnormalities in an ultrasound. Defendant moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the damages claim for future care made this a wrongful death lawsuit barred by section 60-1906(a). The district court granted judgment to Defendant based on the statute, determining that the statute was unconstitutional. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly applied section 60-1906(a) to conclude that Defendant was entitled to judgment on the pleadings. View "Tillman v. Goodpasture" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals denying Appellants' petition for a writ of mandamus after the district court denied Appellants' motion to transfer venue or, an the alternative, their motion asserting forum non conveniens, holding that the term "several" as used in the context of venue motions means "separate."In this medical malpractice case, Appellants, the two defendants, filed a motion for a change of venue under Minn. Stat. 542.10, which allows "several defendants residing in different counties" to compel the transfer of venue when the majority of them wish to transfer venue. In denying the motion, the district court concluded that the two defendants did not constitute several defendants under the statute. The court of appeals agreed and denied Appellants' petition for a writ of mandamus. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the word "several" in section 54.10 means "separate." View "Manselle v. Krogstad" on Justia Law

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A husband and wife sued medical care providers after the wife suffered a seizure, allegedly due to a doctor’s decision to abruptly discontinue her medication. The superior court granted summary judgment to the medical care providers, ruling that the couple’s only expert witness, a pharmacist, was unqualified to provide testimony about the matter at issue because he was not a doctor of internal medicine and was not board-certified in the doctor’s field or specialty. The couple appealed. After review, the Alaska Supreme Court concurred with the trial court that the pharmacist’s testimony was not sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact about the relevant standard of care. The Court therefore affirmed the grant of summary judgment to the health care providers. View "Beistline v. Footit, and Banner Health Inc., D/B/A Fairbanks Memorial Hospital" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing and this medical malpractice claim, holding that the lawsuit was timely filed and not outside the statute of limitations.The district court set aside a jury verdict for Plaintiffs, granted Defendants' motion for judgment as a matter of law, and dismissed this case as untimely, finding that a reasonable jury could not have concluded that this suit was not time barred. On appeal, Plaintiffs argued that even with the exercise of proper diligence they could not have had the requisite knowledge to file suit against Defendant more than one year before they did. The First Circuit agreed and reversed, holding that a reasonable jury could have found that Plaintiffs did not obtain the necessary knowledge to sue until sometime after one year prior to filing suit. View "Melendez-Colon v. Rosado-Sanchez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that claims pleaded under 42 U.S.C. 1983 that were asserted against a state mental health facility and its employees arising from the death of a patient are health care liability claims subject to the Texas Medical Liability Act (TMLA) and that section 1983 does not preempt the TMLA's expert report requirement.Plaintiff sued Rio Grande State Center (RGCS) and ten individual defendants after his son died in RGSC's care. As to RGSC, Plaintiff alleged negligence, and as to the individual defendants, Plaintiff asserted claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Defendants moved to dismiss the claims for failure to serve an expert report under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 74.351(b). The trial court denied the motion to dismiss, and Plaintiff nonsuited the negligence claim against RGSC. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the expert report requirement of the TMLA was preempted by section 1983. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Plaintiff's claims were health care liability claims subject to the TMLA; and (2) section 1983 does not preempt the TMLA's expert-report requirement. View "Rogers v. Bagley" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals reversing the judgment of the circuit court for $500,000 in economic damages to Petitioner under the Wrongful Death Act, Md. Code Ann. Cts. & Jud. Proc. 3-901 to 3-904, holding that the evidence was insufficient to support a pecuniary damage award to compensate for loss of household services from an adult child, now deceased.The circuit court vacated the award against Respondent, a medical doctor, for loss of household services Petitioner alleged she would have received from her adult daughter who died after receiving medical treatment by Respondent. The court of special appeals affirmed, holding that Petitioner had not produced sufficient evidence to have the claim submitted to the jury pursuant to Maryland Rule 2-519. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the evidence adduced by Petitioner was insufficient to meet her burden of proof. View "Fowlkes v. Choudhry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and dismissed part the judgment of the district court denying summary judgment in favor of the Wyoming State Hospital on Plaintiffs' claims asserting various claims of negligence under the Wyoming governmental Claims Act, Wyo. Stat. Ann. 1-39-101 - 120, holding that section 1-30-110's waiver of governmental immunity is not limited to medical malpractice claims.In denying the Hospital's motion for summary judgment, the district court concluded (1) the Hospital had waived its immunity under section 1-39-110, and (2) genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and dismissed in part, holding (1) because it did not involve the purely legal issue of whether the Hospital was immune from suit under the Claims Act, the Hospital's appeal with respect to section 1-39-118 and proximate cause is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction; and (2) the district court did not err in concluding that the Hospital had waived its immunity under section 1-39-110. View "Wyoming State Hospital v. Romine" on Justia Law