Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries
Blackburn v. Shire U.S., Inc., et al.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit certified a question of law to the Alabama Supreme Court. Dr. Dino Ferrante, a gastroenterologist, prescribed LIALDA, which is manufactured by Shire U.S., Inc., and Shire, LLC (referred to collectively as "Shire"), to help patient Mark Blackburn with his Crohn's disease. "LIALDA is the brand name for Shire's mesalamine drug, which is an anti-inflammatory drug specifically aimed at the gut. LIALDA is not approved by the FDA to treat Crohn's, but it is approved to treat ulcerative colitis, Crohn's 'sister' disease." After taking LIALDA for between 12 to 16 months, Blackburn discovered that he had developed kidney disease, specifically advanced chronic interstitial nephritis, which had resulted in irreversible scarring and had diminished his kidney function to 20% of normal capacity. As a result, Blackburn is awaiting a kidney transplant. The federal appellate court asked: (1) consistent with the learned intermediary doctrine, may a pharmaceutical company's duty to warn include a duty to provide instructions about how to mitigate warned-of risks?; and (2) might a plaintiff establish that a failure to warn caused his injuries by showing that his doctor would have adopted a different course of testing or mitigation, even though he would have prescribed the same drug? The Supreme Court answered both questions in the affirmative. View "Blackburn v. Shire U.S., Inc., et al." on Justia Law
Estate of Cowher. v. Kodali, et al
The jury in this medical malpractice case awarded plaintiff Karen Cowher a lump sum amount of damages under the Pennsylvania Survival Act, and did not itemize the amount of pain and suffering damages or other components of its aggregate award. The Superior Court granted the defendants Dr. Sobhan Kodali, St. Luke’s University Health Network, and St. Luke’s Cardiology Associates a new trial on survival damages based on their claim the admission of plaintiff’s expert opinion testimony on pain and suffering was erroneous. The narrow question the Pennsylvania Supreme Court addressed in this appeal was whether defendants waived their right to a new trial under the general verdict rule. This rule applies and mandates waiver when a general verdict rests upon both valid and invalid grounds, and the litigant challenging the verdict failed to request a special verdict slip that would have clarified the basis for the verdict. The Supreme Court concluded these were the circumstances here. Accordingly, the Supreme Court held defendants waived a new trial under the general verdict rule and reversed the Superior Court’s order for a new trial. View "Estate of Cowher. v. Kodali, et al" on Justia Law
Daniel C. v. White Memorial Medical Center
Appellant is a severely disabled child whose congenital abnormalities went undetected during his mother’s pregnancy until after viability. Appellant sued various medical providers for wrongful life, settling with one in 2018. The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) asserted a lien on Appellant's settlement to recover what DHCS paid for Appellant's care. The trial court awarded DHCS the full amount of the lien and Appellant appealed.The Second Appellate District reversed. Although the court rejected Appellant's claim that the DHCS lien is preempted by federal law and that there is no substantial evidence that Appellant's settlement included payments for past medical expenses, the Second Appellate District found that the trial court erred by failing to distinguish between past medical expenses and other damages. View "Daniel C. v. White Memorial Medical Center" on Justia Law
Leslie-Johnson v. Hon. Audra Eckerle
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the court of appeals denying a motion for writs of prohibition and mandamus, holding that there was no error.In the underlying medical negligence action, Petitioners filed a petition seeking a writ of prohibition in the court of appeals to prohibit the enforcement of a circuit court order directing them to provide Norton Healthcare with nine years of Facebook data. Alternatively, Petitioners sought a writ of mandamus directing the circuit court to enter a more constrained discovery order. The court of appeals denied the motion for writs of prohibition and mandamus. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Petitioners' series of general objections were without merit, and therefore, the court of appeals did not err in denying the writ. View "Leslie-Johnson v. Hon. Audra Eckerle" on Justia Law
Kernan v. Regents of the University of California
On November 4, 2016, Kernan had an External Cephalic Version (ECV) procedure to rotate her healthy 39-week fetus from a breech position. The hospital recorded the ECV as successful. Post-procedure fetal monitoring was “reassuring.” The next day, Kernan could not detect fetal movement and returned to the hospital. After an ultrasound, doctors informed Kernan that she had suffered an intrauterine fetal demise and that they could not determine the cause of death. They noted that nothing in the literature linked ECV with fetal demise. Kernan delivered a stillborn baby on November 7. The delivery doctor, Vargas, told Kernan that he could not see any indicators as to why Kernan’s baby died. Kernan eventually ordered an autopsy. After months of delay due to Dr. Vargas not responding to Kernan’s requests to review the autopsy report with her, Kernan met with Dr. Kerns on July 10, 2017, and learned that doctors had discussed her case during a morbidity and mortality conference. Kernan claims she first became subjectively suspicious of medical negligence during that meeting. On November 6, 2017, Kernan served notice of her intention to file suit. Within 90 days, she filed her negligence complaint.The court rejected the suit as time-barred under Code of Civil Procedure 340.5’s one-year limitations period. The court of appeal reversed. The hospital’s records demonstrate that reasonable minds could differ as to whether Kernan should have suspected negligent performance of the ECV on November 5, 2016. View "Kernan v. Regents of the University of California" on Justia Law
Steve Williams v. Jeremy Baum
Two doctors missed Plaintiff’s cancer: Dr. P.J. in March 2015, and Dr. J.B in January 2018. After another doctor eventually discovered cancer, Plaintiff sued both Dr. P.J and Dr. J.B., arguing that their negligence reduced his chance of surviving. The jury returned a favorable verdict for Dr. J.B and Plaintiff moved for a mistrial based on the district court’s evidentiary rulings. The court denied that motion and the Eighth Circuit affirmed.On appeal, Plaintiff argues that the district court should have granted his motion for a new trial for three reasons. First, he says that the testimony about Dr. P.J.’s diagnosis was irrelevant and prejudicial. He next argued that the district court improperly allowed Exhibits S, T, and U to be referenced at trial. Those exhibits are hearsay, but the district court held that they fell within an exception under Federal Rule of Evidence 803. Finally, Plaintiff claimed that even if Rule 803(18) applies to Exhibits S, T, and U, those exhibits still should not have been received by the jury.The court held that the district court’s finding was not a clear abuse of discretion. While it is a close call, the record contained enough evidence for a jury to properly find that Plaintiff failed to meet his burden of proof. The court explained that the district court, which “is in the best position to determine the impact evidence will have upon the jury,” did not abuse its discretion in finding that the jury wasn’t prejudiced by the disputed evidence. View "Steve Williams v. Jeremy Baum" on Justia Law
Mortensen v. Baker
Jana Mortensen sought treatment from Dr. Jeffrey Baker at The Healing Sanctuary, LLC, after a hysterectomy failed to resolve symptoms for ongoing pelvic pain. Mortensen alleged Dr. Baker prescribed Mortensen a 14-day course of “ozone treatment” to be self-administered intravaginally at home. Mortensen allegedly breathed in ozone gas while administering the treatment, which she alleged caused her permanent pulmonary and cardiac injuries. Mortensen filed a complaint against Dr. Baker and The Healing Sanctuary (collectively “Dr. Baker”), claiming medical malpractice. Dr. Baker moved for summary judgment, arguing that Mortensen could not prove causation. The district court conditionally granted Dr. Baker’s motion for summary judgment after finding Mortensen had not raised a genuine issue of material fact; however, the court gave Mortensen a specified time to secure expert testimony on causation. Mortensen did not comply with the deadline. The district court entered summary judgment, denying Mortensen’s second request for additional time. The district court also denied her motion to reconsider. Mortensen appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court reversed, finding the district court erred in excluding certain statements. As a result, Dr. Baker was not entitled to summary judgment because the excluded testimony created a genuine issue of material fact. View "Mortensen v. Baker" on Justia Law
Thacker v. Ethicon, Inc.
Ethicon manufactures a mesh sling, used to treat stress urinary incontinence, and a posterior mesh “Prolift, “designed to treat pelvic organ prolapse. In 2009, Dr. Guiler surgically implanted both devices to treat Thacker. Before the surgery, Thacker reviewed and signed an informed consent form that listed several risks, including: “infections and/or erosions of the mesh” which could require additional follow-up surgeries, urinary retention, “[p]ainful intercourse and vaginal shortening,” and treatment failure. After the surgery, Thacker’s incontinence worsened, and she suffered from shooting pain in her groin area and severe abdominal swelling and bloating. In 2010, Thacker started experiencing severe and unbearable pain during intercourse.Thacker ultimately sued Ethicon, alleging strict liability and negligence claims under the Kentucky Product Liability Act for design defect and failure to warn. The district court granted Ethicon summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit reversed. Dr. Guiler’s testimony suggested that he likely would have recommended a different course of treatment had Ethicon given adequate information. Thacker’s expert testified that no reasonable physician would have used the Pelvic Mesh Devices to treat Thacker had Ethicon given adequate information in 2009. A jury could accept that expert’s opinion that a feasible alternative design would have prevented Thacker’s injuries. View "Thacker v. Ethicon, Inc." on Justia Law
Carrizales v. Creighton St. Joseph
In this medical malpractice action, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of defendant-doctors after granting a motion to strike Plaintiff's expert witness, holding that there was no error.Plaintiff brought this action individually and on behalf of her minor daughter alleging negligence during the child's birth. After dismissing one defendant by operation of law and entering an order striking Plaintiff's expert witness the district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court's decision to strike the expert witness was not an abuse of discretion; and (2) the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to Defendants. View "Carrizales v. Creighton St. Joseph" on Justia Law
Oquendo-Lorenzo v. Hospital San Antonio, Inc.
The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court entering judgment against Hospital San Antonio, Inc. (HSA) and denying HSA's subsequent motion for relief under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b), holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion in the challenged rulings.Plaintiffs brought a medical malpractice suit against Defendants, healthcare providers and their insurance carriers, alleging that the birth injuries suffered by their daughter and her subsequent death resulted from Defendants' negligence. The district court entered a partial judgment against defendant HSA and dismissed the claims against the remaining defendants. While its appeal was pending, HSA filed a motion for relief under Rule 60(b), which the district court denied. The First Circuit affirmed the final judgment of the district court and the denial of Plaintiffs' Rule 60(b) motion, holding that HSA did not benefit from the liability limits in P.R. Laws Ann. Tit. 32, 3077, which waives Puerto Rico's sovereign immunity and establishes liability caps in certain circumstances. View "Oquendo-Lorenzo v. Hospital San Antonio, Inc." on Justia Law