Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

by
This case involved a medical-malpractice suit brought by Jalena and Brian Taylor against Jalena’s OB/GYN, Dr. Donielle Daigle, and her clinic, Premier Women’s Health, PLLC. In 2017, Jalena was admitted to Memorial Hospital of Gulfport in active labor preparing to give birth. After pushing for two and a half hours, the baby’s head became lodged in the mother’s pelvis, and it was determined that a caesarean section was necessary. Following delivery of the child, Jalena’s blood pressure dropped, and her pulse increased. The nurses worked to firm Jalena’s uterus post delivery, but she continued to have heavy clots and bleeding. Jalena was given a drug to tighten the uterus, and an OR team was called to be on standby in the event surgery became necessary. Dr. Daigle called the OR team off after Jalena’s bleeding was minimal, and her uterus remained completely firm. But Jalena’s heart rate remained extremely elevated. Dr. Daigle allowed Jalena to go back to her room, and she checked her again, and the uterus was firm. A minute or two later, Jalena sat up and felt a gush of blood. Dr. Daigle prepared to perform a hysterectomy, There was still bleeding from the cervical area, which doctors decided they needed to amputate. Even after doing so, there was still bleeding because of a laceration extending into the vagina. When the vagina was sutured and incorporated into the repair of the vaginal cuff, the bleeding finally stopped. The Taylors allege that Dr. Daigle failed to adequately treat Jalena and, as a result, she cannot have any more children. A five-day jury trial was held in January 2021, and the jury returned a twelve-to-zero verdict in favor of Dr. Daigle and Premier. On appeal, the Taylors argued the trial court committed reversible error by: (1) refusing to grant their cause challenges of patients of Dr. Daigle and Premier, thus failing to give them a right to a fair and impartial jury; and (2) failing to find a deviation from the standard of care for failing to perform a proper inspection of a genital tract laceration. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the jury verdict because it was reached on factual evidence in favor of Dr. Daigle and Premier by an impartial jury. "All twelve of the jurors agreed on the verdict, and the verdict was not against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. It should not be disturbed." View "Taylor v. Premier Women's Health, PLLC, et al." on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the court of special appeals affirming the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants in this wrongful death action, holding that the lower courts correctly decided Plaintiff's claim because he pleaded a loss of chance case, which is not recognized in Maryland.After Stephanie Wadsworth died of breast cancer, Plaintiff, her husband, brought this survival action and wrongful death action against several healthcare providers, including Defendants. Defendants moved for summary judgment, asserting that the legal theory upon which Plaintiff's lawsuit was based - the loss of chance doctrine - was not recognized in Maryland. The trial court granted the motion. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the circuit court correctly determined that Plaintiff's case was a loss of chance case, which is not recognized in Maryland. View "Wadsworth v. Sharma" on Justia Law

by
Lanclos was born in 1982 at the Keesler Air Force Base Medical Center. During childbirth, she was seriously injured and as a result, suffers from Athetoid cerebral palsy. The settlement agreement for Lanclos’s medical malpractice suit required the government to make lump sum payments to Lanclos’s parents and their attorney; Lanclos would receive a single lump sum payment followed by specific monthly payments for the longer of 30 years or the remainder of her life. The government would purchase an annuity policy to provide the monthly payments. The government selected Executive Insurance to provide the monthly annuity payments. Executive encountered financial difficulties and, in 2014, reduced the amount of the monthly payments by 42%. Lanclos estimates that the reduction will result in a shortfall of $731,288.81 from the amount described in the settlement agreement.The Court of Federal Claims reasoned that the “guarantee” language in the Lanclos agreement applies to the scheduled monthly structure of the payments but not the actual payment of the listed amounts and that the government was not liable for the shortfall. The Federal Circuit reversed. Under the ordinary meaning of the term “guarantee” and consistent with the agreement as a whole, the government agreed to assure fulfillment of the listed monthly payments; there is no reasonable basis to conclude that the parties sought to define “guarantee” or to give the term an alternative meaning. View "Lanclos v. United States" on Justia Law

by
In this medical malpractice case, the Supreme Court held that defendants do not violate the "One-Expert Rule" when offering the testimony of a treating physician on the standard of care, in addition to that of a retained or specially employed expert, when the testimony is based on the treating physician's personal observations and participation in providing treatment to the plaintiff.At issue was the One-Expert Rule set forth in Ariz. R. Civ. P. 26-(b)(4)(F)(i), which allows each side in a medical malpractice case presumptively to call only one retained or specially-employed expert to testify on the standard of care issue. The Supreme Court remanded this case for a new trial, holding (1) the trial court correctly declined to find a violation of the One-Expert Rule in this case; and (2) a treating physician dismissed on summary judgment is not an indispensable party to an appeal of the denial of a motion to name him a nonparty at fault. View "McDaniel v. Payson Healthcare Management, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Lesley Meyers, personal representative of the estate of Samuel Corrado, filed an action against Karen Rieck; Radi Gerbi; Shelby Nursing Center Joint Venture, doing business as Shelby Nursing Center; and others alleging that defendants were negligent and had committed medical malpractice in treating Corrado. Corrado, the decedent, was a patient at Shelby Nursing Center, a nursing home, in 2014. The nursing home had a standing order for patients with nausea that directed staff to, among other things, administer an antinausea medication and to notify the patient’s doctor immediately if the patient had more than one episode of vomiting in a 24-hour period. Pursuant to the standing order, Gerbi administered the antinausea medication to Corrado. Gerbi also attempted to call a physician, but when he was unable to reach the physician he went on break instead. Meyers, Corrado’s daughter, called the nursing home to have someone sent to Corrado’s room. When she was unsuccessful, Meyers went to the nursing home herself, where she found Corrado having difficulty breathing. Corrado was taken to the hospital, where he died from hypoxia due to aspiration. During discovery, plaintiff learned of the standing order and moved to amend the complaint to add to its ordinary-negligence claim allegations that Gerbi had failed to comply with the standing order to contact a physician after Corrado’s second vomiting episode. In response, Shelby Nursing Center moved to dismiss the new claim, arguing that the standing order was not evidence of ordinary negligence, could not be used to establish the standard of care in a medical malpractice claim, and could not be admitted as evidence in support of a medical malpractice claim. The trial court granted plaintiff’s motion to amend and denied Shelby Nursing Center’s motion to dismiss. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that plaintiff’s proposed amended claim sounded in medical malpractice, rather than ordinary negligence. The Court of Appeals also concluded that the standing order could not be used to establish the standard of care for a medical malpractice claim and could not be admitted as evidence at trial. The Michigan Supreme Court concluded after review that plaintiff’s proposed amendment sounded in medical malpractice, and the standard of care in a medical malpractice action could not be established by the internal rules and regulations of the defendant medical provider. Those rules and regulations, however, might be admissible as evidence in determining the standard of care, provided that the jury is instructed that they do not constitute the standard of care. View "Estate of Corrado v. Rieck, et al." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting Defendant's plea in bar to Plaintiff's negligence claim on the ground that he was protected by derivative sovereign immunity and granting Defendant's demurrer to Plaintiff's gross negligence claim because it was insufficiently pleaded, holding that there was no legal error in either of these decisions.Langston Patterson was an inmate in the Danville Adult Detention Center (DADC) when he suffered cardiac arrest and later died. The personal representative of his estate sued Defendant, the DADC physician, claiming that Defendant committed medical malpractice by failing to provide the necessary and appropriate care to Patterson. The circuit court granted Defendant's plea in bar to Plaintiff's negligence claim and Defendant's demurrer to Plaintiff's gross negligence claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no error of law or any irrationality in the fact-finding of the circuit court; and (2) Defendant's claim for gross negligence failed as a matter of law. View "Patterson v. City of Danville" on Justia Law

by
Jody arrived at the Indiana University Health emergency room with severe abdominal pain. Doctors determined she needed emergency surgery to remove a dying portion of her intestine. Because they believed (incorrectly) that the problem stemmed from earlier gastric bypass surgery, they transferred her to another facility to be operated on by the bariatric surgeon who had performed the bypass. Jody died two days later. Her husband sued, alleging that IU’s failure to operate on Jody violated its obligation under the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act to “stabilize” Jody when it decided to transfer her without first performing the laparotomy and removing the ischemic portions of her intestine, 42 U.S.C. 1395dd(b)(1)(A).The Seventh Circuit affirmed the summary judgment rejection of the suit. The Act authorizes pre-stabilization transfer where one of two triggering conditions is satisfied and the transfer is “appropriate.” No reasonable jury could conclude that IU did not satisfy both requirements. A physician certified that “[b]ased upon the information available to [him] at the time of transfer, … the medical benefits reasonably expected from the provision of appropriate medical treatment at another facility outweigh the increased risks to [Jody] … from undertaking the transfer.” The court cited the “Treatment Act’s narrow purpose as an anti-dumping law rather than a federal cause of action for medical malpractice.” View "Martindale v. Indiana University Health Bloomington, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff brought a medical malpractice action against her personal, treating physician, Golden Valley Health Centers, and Doctors Medical Center of Modesto (“DMC”), after suffering complications and injuries as a result of a hysterectomy procedure performed by her physician at DMC. The complaint alleged a single cause of action, medical negligence, as to all defendants. Potential liability on the part of DMC was premised primarily on an ostensible or apparent agency theory. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of DMC.   The Fifth Appellate District affirmed the trial court’s judgment and held that the trial court property granted DMC’s motion for summary judgment. The court explained that a hospital is liable for a physician’s malpractice when the physician is actually employed or is the ostensible agent of the hospital. Further, unless the patient had some reason to know of the true relationship between the hospital and the physician ostensible agency is readily inferred.   Here, the undisputed facts show that Plaintiff did not rely on an apparent agency relationship between DMC and her treating physician in seeking and receiving surgical care. Rather, Plaintiff herself chose her physician as her treating physician and elected to undergo the procedure at issue under the guidance of her physician and on the condition that it would be performed by her. These undisputed facts conclusively establish that, under the circumstances, Plaintiff reasonably should have known that the physician was not an agent of the hospital; rather, she utilized the hospital’s surgical facilities to provide surgical care to her own patients. View "Magallanes de Valle v. Doctors Medical Center of Modesto" on Justia Law

by
In 2018, plaintiffs Isiah and Chrishanna Smith filed a medical malpractice suit on behalf of their minor son, Mason Heath. Dr. Robert Russell, Minden Medical Center and staff, and Dr. Cristal Kirby were named defendants. The complaint alleged malpractice in connection with Mason’s circumcision performed by Dr. Russell at Minden Medical Center on August 18, 2015. Dr. Kirby subsequently treated Mason on September 2, 2015 and September 23, 2015. The child experienced complications with the circumcision site. After a second opinion, plaintiffs filed suit against Dr. Russell and the medical center. Dr. Russell and Minden Medical filed an exception of prescription, contending they only rendered care to Mason on August 18, 2015. Because the complaint was filed August 14, 2018, beyond the one-year limitation of Louisiana Revised Statutes 9:5628(A), they argued plaintiffs’ claim was prescribed on the face of the pleadings. Moreover, they urged that plaintiffs continually observed problems with the circumcision site, which required prescription steroid cream, and these facts constituted discovery, triggering prescription more than one year before the August 2018 filing. Dr. Kirby filed a separate exception of prescription. She asserted September 23, 2015 was her last contact with Mason; thus, the suit filed August 14, 2018 was prescribed on its face. Plaintiffs challenged the lower courts' ruling that their claim was prescribed. The Louisiana Supreme Court reversed, finding "plaintiffs did not sleep on their rights. They persistently cared for their child by bringing him to wellness visits and asking questions to ensure the circumcision site was properly healing. ... medical professionals assuaged their concerns and a reasonable explanation of post-circumcision healing existed. Plaintiffs filed their complaint within one year of discovery and within three years of the alleged act, omission, or neglect, making their claim timely pursuant to Louisiana Revised Statutes 9:5628(A). We reverse the granting of the exception of prescription." View "In re: Medical Review Panel of Mason Heath" on Justia Law

by
Acting pro se, plaintiff-appellant Timothy Simms wanted to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit against defendant-respondent Bear Valley Community Healthcare District (Bear Valley). He appealed a judgment denying his petition under Government Code section 946.6, in which he sought relief from the requirement in the California Government Claims Act that he timely present a claim to Bear Valley before bringing a suit for damages. The Court of Appeal reversed the judgment, finding that Simms did not require relief from the claim presentation requirement because he in fact submitted a timely claim, and the trial court erred by ruling he had not done so. Although Simms’s claim was deficient in certain respects, its submission triggered a statutory duty for Bear Valley to notify Simms of the defects, and the failure to notify him waived any defense as to the claim’s sufficiency. As such, Simms should have been permitted to file a complaint. View "Simms v. Bear Valley Community Heathcare Dist." on Justia Law