Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

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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

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In October 2012, plaintiff Donna Brown filed a complaint with the Louisiana Division of Administration against Dr. Ralph Chesson. Subsequently, she was notified of Dr. Chesson’s status as a qualified state health care provider and a medical review panel was convened. After the medical review panel rendered its opinion in favor of Dr. Chesson, Brown filed a petition for damages solely against Dr. Chesson in 2015. In the petition she alleged medical malpractice during a 2011 surgical procedure and requested service on Dr. Chesson at his office. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted review in this case to determine whether it was sufficient to request service solely on a qualified state health care provider when that individual was the only named defendant in a medical malpractice suit. Specifically, whether plaintiff’s request for service and citation within ninety days from the commencement of this suit on only the defendant physician satisfied the statutory requirements for service on a state employee. The Supreme Court found that the service was sufficient and the court of appeal erred in sustaining the exceptions of insufficiency of citation and service of process. View "Brown v. Chesson" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Cassie Secol and her four minor children (collectively “the Secols”) challenged several evidentiary rulings, jury instructions, and the denial of their motion for a new trial. In late 2016, Damian Secol passed away from a rare form of cancer, T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma (“T-LBL”). Following his death, the Secols brought a medical malpractice action against Damian’s primary care providers: Kelly Dustin, D.O., Austin Gillette, M.D., and Fall River Medical, PLLC (collectively “Fall River”). At trial, the district court questioned Dr. Jeffery Hancock, Damian’s treating oncologist, in front of the jury concerning the treatment and diagnosis of T-LBL. The Secols moved the district court for a mistrial, arguing the questioning prevented a fair trial. The district court denied the motion. After the jury returned a verdict in Fall River’s favor, the Secols moved the district court for a new trial, which was also denied. The Secols appealed, challenging the district court’s evidentiary rulings, delivery of jury instructions, and the denial of their motion for a new trial. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court reversed the district court, vacated the judgment following the jury verdict, and remanded for a new trial to be conducted by a new district judge. Specifically, the Court determined the district court abused its discretion in denying the Secols’ motion for a new trial because its questioning of Dr. Hancock denied the Secols a fair trial. "Such questioning was an abuse of discretion and necessitates a new trial." Further, the district court abused its discretion in permitting Dr. Hancock to testify as to matters for which no foundation was laid and which were outside the scope of his expertise. And in addition, the district court erred in admitting irrelevant testimony about Dr. Gillette’s and Dr. Dustin’s families and hobbies, and the district court erred in delivering a modified jury instruction on medical negligence, which included prejudicially confusing language concerning direct expert testimony as compared to expert testimony. The district court was affirmed as to the admission of Fall River two experts' testimony on the standard of care because its decision on Fall River’s motion for reconsideration was not part of the record. View "Secol v. Fall River Medical PLLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from a jury verdict in favor of Defendants in this medical malpractice action, holding that Plaintiff failed to timely file her notice of appeal.Plaintiff, individually and on behalf of her minor son, brought this lawsuit alleging that her son developed severe, disabling injuries from bacterial meningitis and that Defendants were liable for medical negligence and parental loss of consortium. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Defendants. Plaintiff appealed, presenting several issues. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the appeal was untimely and should be dismissed under Iowa R. App. P. 6.101(1)(b). View "Valles v. Mueting" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment and dismissing Plaintiff's claims for negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent misrepresentation, and breach of contract, holding that Plaintiff's claims were subject to the two-year statute of limitations set forth in Iowa Code 614.1(9) and were untimely.On Defendants' motion for summary judgment, the district court held that Plaintiff's causes of action arose out of patient care and were barred by section 614.1(9), the two-year statute of limitations governing malpractice action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that each of Plaintiff's allegations originated from representations regarding patient care and the patient care Defendants provided, and therefore, Plaintiff's claims were untimely under section 614.1(9). View "Kostoglanis v. Yates" on Justia Law

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This appeal concerned the enforceability of an arbitration agreement executed between Ashley River Plantation, an assisted-living facility, and Thayer Arredondo, the attorney-in-fact under two powers of attorney executed by Hubert Whaley, a facility resident. When Whaley was admitted into the facility, Arredondo held two valid powers of attorney, a General Durable Power of Attorney (GDPOA) and a Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA). Arredondo met with a facility representative and signed various documents in connection with Whaley's admission. During that meeting, the facility representative did not mention or present an arbitration agreement to Arredondo. Later that day, after Whaley was admitted, Arredondo met with a different facility representative who, according to Arredondo, told her she "needed to sign additional documents related to [her] father's admission to the facility." Included among those documents was the arbitration agreement, which Arredondo signed. The arbitration agreement contained a mutual waiver of the right to a trial by judge or jury, and required arbitration of all claims involving potential damages exceeding $25,000. The agreement barred either party from appealing the arbitrators' decision, prohibited an award of punitive damages, limited discovery, and provided Respondents the unilateral right to amend the agreement. Two years into his stay at the facility, Whaley was admitted to the hospital, where he died six years later. Arredondo, as Personal Representative of Whaley's estate, brought this action alleging claims for wrongful death and survival against Respondents. The complaint alleged that during his residency at the facility, Whaley suffered serious physical injuries and died as a result of Respondents' negligence and recklessness. In an unpublished opinion, the court of appeals held the arbitration agreement was enforceable. The South Carolina Supreme Court held neither power of attorney gave Arredondo the authority to sign the arbitration agreement. Therefore, the court of appeals was reversed. View "Arredondo v. SNH SE Ashley River Tenant, LLC" on Justia Law

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Woodson received prenatal treatment from Dr. Ramsey at NorthShore Health Centers. Ramsey informed Woodson that she would likely need to deliver her baby by C-section. Ramsey delivered P.W. vaginally at Anonymous Hospital. Woodson noticed immediately that something was wrong with P.W.’s left arm. P.W.’s arm did not improve.NorthShore is a Federally-qualified health center (FQHC) that receives federal money (42 U.S.C. 1396d(l)(2)(B)); its employees are deemed Public Health Service employees, covered against malpractice claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 42 U.S.C. 233(g). NorthShore appears in the federal government's online public database of federal funding recipients whose employees may be deemed Public Health Service employees. Woodson’s attorney, Sandoval, failed to recognize NorthShore’s status as an FQHC. Sandoval reviewed the Indiana Department of Insurance (IDOI) and Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund online databases and learned that Ramsey and Anonymous Hospital were “qualified” providers under the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act. The IDOI forwarded Woodson’s complaint to Ramsey and his insurance carrier. Those claims remain pending.On December 16, 2015, NorthShore informed Sandoval that NorthShore was a federally funded health center. Woodson filed administrative tort claims, which were denied. Nearly three years after P.W.’s birth, Woodson filed suit against the government and Anonymous Hospital. The Seventh Circuit affirmed that the claims accrued on December 7, 2013, the day P.W. was born, and were untimely under the FTCA’s two-year statute of limitations. Woodson had enough information shortly after P.W.'s birth to prompt her to inquire whether the manner of delivery caused P.W.’s injury. The FTCA savings provision does not apply because the IDOI never dismissed the claims. Neither Ramsey nor NorthShore had a duty to inform Woodson of their federal status. View "P.W. v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court granted summary judgment to Defendants in this medical malpractice action, holding that the district court erred in excluding certain testimony.Joaquin Rojas was five years old when he suffered a brain injury. Plaintiffs, the child's parents, sued Dr. Corey Joekel and Joekel's employer, Nebraska Pediatric Practice, Inc., alleging that Joekel misdiagnosed and failed to treat Joaquin's condition. Based on Defendants' objection, the district court found inadmissible the expert testimony of Plaintiffs' key witness, Dr. Todd Lawrence. The district court then granted summary judgment for Defendants on the basis that, without Dr. Lawrence's testimony, Plaintiffs could not prove causation. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court erred in excluding Dr. Lawrence's testimony; and (2) because the testimony raised a genuine dispute about causation, summary judgment was unwarranted. View "Gonzales v. Nebraska Pediatric Practice" on Justia Law