Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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The First Circuit affirmed the decisions of the district court granting partial summary judgment to defendant-physicians and denying Plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration in light of the decision in Oquendo-Lorenzo v. Hospital San Antonio, Inc., 256 F. Supp. 3d 103 (D.P.R. 2017), holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion.Plaintiffs filed this suit on behalf of themselves, their conjugal partnership, and their minor daughter, C.A.K., alleging that Defendants breached their duty of care and departed from medical standards when treating C.A.K. in the emergency room of San Antonio Hospital. The district court granted partial summary judgment for Defendants, concluding that they were absolutely immune from liability for negligence under recent amendments to Article 41.050 of the Puerto Rico Insurance Code. After Oquendo-Lorenzo was subsequently decided, Plaintiffs moved for reconsideration. The district court denied the motion. The First Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and order denying the motion to reconsider, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion. View "Kenyon v. Gonzalez-Del Rio" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals vacated the judgment of the court of special appeals reversing the decision of the trial court granting summary judgment to Defendants in this professional malpractice action, holding that the circuit court mistakenly applied Meda v. Brown, 318 Md. 418 (1990), in excluding Plaintiff's experts.In their motion for summary judgment, Defendants argued that there was no evidence or medical circumstances sufficient to allow an expert opinion "inference" that surgical negligence occurred in the underlying matter. After finding that the testimonies of Plaintiffs' expert witnesses were not admissible the Supreme Court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The court of special appeals reversed, finding that the trial court erred as a matter of law in excluding Plaintiff's expert witnesses. The Court of Appeals remanded the case with instructions to reverse the circuit court's judgment, holding that the circuit court erred in excluding the testimony of Plaintiff's expert witnesses. View "Frankel v. Deane" on Justia Law

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The issue in this appeal is whether respondent Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital (Hospital) can be held liable for the alleged negligence of its staff physician. The physician’s patient, Plaintiff, appealed the judgment entered after the trial court granted Hospital’s motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff claimed that the physician had negligently injured him during surgery performed at Hospital. Plaintiff settled his malpractice action against the physician for $1 million, the maximum coverage under the physician’s professional liability insurance policy.   Based on actual agency and ostensible agency theories, Plaintiff sought to hold Hospital vicariously liable for the physician’s negligence. The Second Appellate District affirmed the judgment in Hospital’s favor. The court explained that for actual agency to exist, the principal must in some manner indicate that the agent is to act for him, and the agent must act or agree to act on his behalf and subject to his control. By producing the “Physician Recruitment Agreement” between Hospital and the physician, Hospital satisfied its initial burden of production as well as its burden of persuasion for summary judgment purposes. In his reply brief Plaintiff alleged, “Because of the extent of [Hospital’s] control over the physician’s practice of medicine, except for how he actually treated patients, the physician was an actual agent of Hospital.” Accordingly, summary judgment was properly granted as to Plaintiff’s claim of actual agency. For summary judgment purposes, Hospital satisfied its initial burden of production as well as its burden of persuasion that the physician was not its ostensible agent. View "Franklin v. Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital" on Justia Law