Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries
Camen v. Glacier Eye Clinic, P.C.
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court following a jury verdict in favor of Glacier Eye Center, P.C. (GEC) and Kalispell Regional Medical Center, Inc. (KRMC) in this medical malpractice action, holding that the district court abused its discretion by refusing to give certain jury instructions, requiring that this matter be remanded for a new trial.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court abused its discretion by refusing to give the jury a proportionate duty instruction and a loss of chance instruction under the facts of this case, and the court's failure to give these instructions resulted in the jury not being fully and fairly instructed in the applicable law, prejudicing Defendant and requiring a new trial; and (2) the district court erred by failing to poll the jury in the manner required by statute. View "Camen v. Glacier Eye Clinic, P.C." on Justia Law
Uriegas v. Kenmar Residential HCS Services, Inc.
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court that two expert reports provided to support Plaintiff's claims for negligence provided the information required by the Texas Medical Liability Act, Tex. Civ. Proc. & Rem. Code 74.351(a), (l), (r)(6), holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant's motion to dismiss.Plaintiff, the guardian of a care facility resident, sued Defendant, the facility, alleging negligence. The trial court concluded that the two expert reports provided by Plaintiff to support the claims provided a fair summary of the experts' opinion regarding the standard of care, breach, and the cause of injury, as required by the Act. The court of appeals reversed on the ground that the reports lacked sufficient detail regarding the appropriate standard of care and breach. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the proffered reports provided a fair summary of the experts' opinions as to the appropriate standard of care and breach of that standard. View "Uriegas v. Kenmar Residential HCS Services, Inc." on Justia Law
Escobar-Santana v. State
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying the State's motion to dismiss the second count of the complaint filed by Celine Escobar-Santana (Celine) and her son Emmett Escobar-Santana (Emmett), holding that the phrase "medical malpractice claims" in Conn. Gen. Stat. 4-160(f) was broad enough to encompass Celine's claim for emotional distress damages under the circumstances of this case.Celine brought this action alleging that she suffered emotional distress damages from physical injuries to Emmett that were proximately caused by the negligence of health care professionals (collectively, Defendants) during the birthing process. The State moved to dismiss count two of the complaint on the ground that the count did not fall within the statutory waiver of the State's sovereign immunity in section 4-160(f) because the count stated a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress or bystander liability rather than medical malpractice. The trial court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Celine's allegation that she suffered a traumatic delivery followed by severe psychological distress was inextricably connected to her allegations of medical malpractice and therefore qualified as a medical malpractice claim for purposes of section 4-160(f). View "Escobar-Santana v. State" on Justia Law
Wilson v. United States
Pretrial detainee Wilson complained to Philadelphia Federal Detention Center medical staff about a lump on his testicle in November 2017. They allegedly stated that such a lump was probably cancerous. Wilson subsequently complained that his condition worsened but received no further treatment. Wilson was transferred to Bureau of Prisons custody, where a urologist determined in February 2018 that the lump was cancerous. Wilson's right testicle was surgically removed. Wilson believed that if his cancer had been addressed earlier, treatment would not have involved chemotherapy and surgery.Wilson alleged medical negligence under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The court granted extensions for Wilson (pro se) to act on Pennsylvania Rule 1042.3, which requires medical malpractice plaintiffs to certify either that they have expert support for their claims or will proceed without an expert. Wilson explained that he wanted an expert but conceded the impossibility of obtaining one during the pandemic prison lockdowns. He stated that his medical records would demonstrate that his injury “was not inevitable" and specifically identified documents as discoverable material to substantiate his allegations, The court granted the government summary judgment stating that, while a factfinder could find without expert testimony that the delay in treatment was unreasonable, the issue of whether the delay caused the need to remove Wilson’s testicle required expert testimony.The Third Circuit reversed, finding that the FTCA does not incorporate Rule 1042.3. Wilson did not otherwise have an adequate opportunity to seek out an expert or conduct discovery due to his unique position as a pro se inmate during the pandemic. View "Wilson v. United States" on Justia Law
Sowards v. Sowards
The Supreme Court held that an injury settlement agreement between the married couple in this case and a third party did constitute a valid and binding property settlement or postnuptial agreement, thus reversing the trial court's judgment and remanding the case for further proceedings.Husband and Wife sued the manufacturer of Husband's pacemaker, among other parties, claiming medical malpractice. The couple were awarded $2 million in compensatory damages and $5.4 million in punitive damages. Thereafter, the couple entered into a written settlement agreement with the pacemaker manufacturer requiring, for purposes of this appeal, Husband and Wife to use $5.4 million of the settlement to fund a series of annuity payments. Later, the parties separated, and the trial court entered a dissolution decree finding that the parties had agreed to the allocation of the settlement funds. Wife appealed, arguing that the punitive damages portion of the agreement was a community asset that should have been equitably divided. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed the trial court's determination that the annuity payments were not community property based on the settlement, holding that the agreement was not a valid postnuptial agreement. View "Sowards v. Sowards" on Justia Law
Davis, et al. v. Mercy Medical Center, et al.
Mercy Medical Center d/b/a CHI St. Alexius Health Williston; and David Keene, M.D. (Defendants), appealed an amended judgment awarding Michael and Kimberly Davis $1,660,000 in damages and $204,973.31 in costs and disbursements for medical malpractice relating to Michael’s kidney failure. The North Dakota Supreme Court determined the trial court awarded disbursements not authorized by N.D.C.C. § 28-26-06 and allowed other costs without explanation. The Court reversed the Davises’ award of disbursements and costs and remanded for further proceedings. View "Davis, et al. v. Mercy Medical Center, et al." on Justia Law
Johnson v. C. R. Bard, Inc.
Hoping to minimize her risk of suffering serious complications from future blood clots, Johnson underwent surgery to implant a retrievable intravascular filter–a medical device that is placed in the inferior vena cava to prevent blood clots that develop in the lower body from flowing into the heart and lungs. Johnson’s doctor selected the Meridian filter, which was supposed to be temporary and easily removable. Johnson’s filter migrated and fractured, leaving shards embedded in the wall of her heart and elsewhere. Her surgeon was unable to remove the device safely and fully. As a result, Johnson faces an ongoing risk of infection, pain, and other complications.Johnson sued the manufacturers of the Meridian filter (Bard), claiming that they defectively designed the Meridian filter and failed to warn medical providers about the device’s risks, in violation of Wisconsin law. A jury rejected most of Johnson’s theories but returned a $3.3 million verdict in her favor on her strict liability failure-to-warn count. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, stating that its decision “should not be misinterpreted as our endorsement of some of Johnson’s counsel’s trial tactics.” There was no reversible error in instructing the jury or in permitting certain testimony, in alleged violation of expert witness disclosure requirements. View "Johnson v. C. R. Bard, Inc." on Justia Law
McLaughlin v. Nahata, et al.
During their employment with Dialysis Clinic, Inc. (DCI), the Doctors maintained staff privileges and worked at Washington Hospital. In 2013, Alyssa McLaughlin was admitted to the Hospital and received treatment from, among other medical staff, the Doctors, Kathryn Simons, M.D., Anne F. Josiah, M.D., Thomas Pirosko, D.O., and Ashely Berkley, D.O. At some point during or after that treatment, McLaughlin sustained severe and permanent neurological injuries. Attributing those injuries to negligence in her treatment, McLaughlin and her husband, William McLaughlin (collectively, the McLaughlins), initiated an action against the Doctors, the Hospital, and the other physicians noted above who were responsible for her care. The issue this case presented for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's review centered on whether, as a matter of law, the Hospital could seek contribution and/or indemnity from DCI for negligence committed by DCI’s employees (the Doctors). The trial and superior courts both concluded that, although traditional principles of contribution and indemnity did not apply cleanly these particular circumstances, equitable principles of law permitted the Hospital to seek both contribution and indemnity from DCI. As a result, the trial court denied DCI’s motion for summary relief, and the superior court affirmed. The Supreme Court was unanimous in finding that, if the Hospital and DCI were determined to be vicariously liable for the negligence of the Doctors, the law permitted the Hospital to seek contribution from DCI. The Court was evenly divided on the question of whether the Hospital could also seek indemnification from DCI. Given the decision on contribution and inability to reach a decision on indemnity, the superior court was affirmed on those questions. View "McLaughlin v. Nahata, et al." on Justia Law
Hrymoc v. Ethicon, Inc.
In this products liability matter involving “pelvic mesh” medical devices, the New Jersey Supreme Court considered whether defendant C.R. Bard, Inc., was denied a fair trial by the trial court’s determination that defendant could not present 510(k) clearance evidence -- evidence that, pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 360c, the devices were allowed to be marketed without premarket clinical trials -- to counter the product liability claims brought by plaintiffs Mary and Thomas Walsh McGinnis. North Carolina surgeon Dr. Elizabeth Barbee implanted Bard’s “Align TO” and “Avaulta Solo” pelvic mesh devices. In the months following surgery, McGinnis had to undergo numerous invasive surgeries to remove the mesh and repair internal damage, with limited success. In 2011, plaintiffs filed suit against defendant Bard under North Carolina law. Counsel agreed that the substantive issues would be tried under the law of North Carolina but that the issue of damages would be tried under New Jersey law. Plaintiffs moved in limine to bar defendant from presenting any evidence of the devices’ 510(k) clearance to the jury. The trial court found the 510(k) evidence inadmissible. The Appellate Division reversed, holding that the exclusion of any 510(k) evidence deprived defendant of a fair trial on the issue of negligence. The Supreme Court agreed that 510(k) evidence was generally inadmissible because the 510(k) clearance process solely determines substantial equivalency, and not safety and efficacy. However, in a products liability claim premised on the reasonableness of a manufacturer’s conduct in not performing clinical trials or studies, the Court held evidence of 510(k) clearance had significant probative value under N.J.R.E. 401 that was not substantially outweighed by the risk of prejudice and potential juror confusion under N.J.R.E. 403. Therefore, under the specific facts and circumstances of this case, the Supreme Court affirmed the Appellate Division and remanded for a new trial. The Court disagreed with the Appellate Division’s decision regarding the scope and admissibility of 510(k) evidence and a Rule 104 hearing. To this, the Supreme Court believed the scope and admissibility of 510(k) evidence should be resolved at the hearing on a motion in limine, which was how the issue was and, presumably, would be raised. View "Hrymoc v. Ethicon, Inc." on Justia Law
Ottgen v. Katranji
Candi Ottgen and her husband brought a medical malpractice action against Abdalmaijid Katranji, M.D., and others, alleging that Katranji had negligently performed two thumb surgeries on her, first on May 1, 2017, the second July 23, 2017. Plaintiffs filed their action on April 11, 2019, focusing their complaint on the first surgery, but they did not attach an affidavit of merit (AOM) to the complaint as required by MCL 600.2912d(1). On May 9, 2019, defendants moved for summary judgment pursuant to Scarsella v. Pollak, 461 Mich 547 (2000), which held that filing a medical malpractice complaint without an AOM was ineffective to commence the action and thereby toll the two-year statutory limitations period. Plaintiffs responded by filing an amended complaint with an AOM that had purportedly been executed on January 30, 2019, but was not attached to the original complaint because of a clerical error. Plaintiffs also separately requested permission to make the late filing and contended that it related back to the original complaint. The trial court held that Scarsella was inapplicable because the AOM was completed when the original complaint was filed and its omission from the filing was inadvertent. The trial court also permitted plaintiffs to file their late AOM and allowed it to relate back to the April 2019 complaint. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that Scarsella applied and, accordingly, that plaintiffs’ complaint was untimely with regard to the first surgery, rendering the April 2019 complaint ineffective and leaving nothing for the subsequently filed May 13, 2019 amended complaint to relate back to. The Michigan Supreme Court concluded Scarsella was erroneously decided and failed to survive a stare decisis analysis, and it was therefore overruled. "Filing an AOM under MCL 600.2912d(1) is not required to commence a medical malpractice action and toll the statutory limitations period. Instead, the normal tolling rules apply to medical malpractice actions, and tolling occurs upon the filing of a timely served complaint. A failure to comply with MCL 600.2912d(1) can still be a basis for dismissal of a case; however, the dismissal cannot be based on statute-of-limitations grounds." Because the courts below did not consider the nature of dismissals for violations of MCL 600.2912d(1), the case was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Ottgen v. Katranji" on Justia Law