Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

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Mariah Charles was born prematurely in October 2014 at Lafayette General Medical Center (LGMC) and hospitalized there until transferred to Women’s and Children’s Hospital of Lafayette (W&C). She was released in April 2015 release. Dr. Geeta Dalal, a pediatric cardiologist with clinical privileges at both hospitals, contributed to Mariah’s care during and after Mariah’s hospitalization. While Mariah remained at LGMC, Dr. Dalal ordered and interpreted eight echocardiograms that, according to the petition, revealed abnormal findings that could cause pulmonary artery hypertension. The petition alleged Dr. Dalal took no action other than ordering additional echocardiograms. After Mariah’s transfer to W&C, Dr. Dalal interpreted three more echocardiograms, again noted abnormalities, and allegedly failed to properly diagnose or treat Mariah. On May 8, Mariah was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit at W&C and examined by another pediatric cardiologist who diagnosed pulmonary artery hypertension. Mariah was transferred by helicopter to Children’s Hospital of New Orleans where medical staff confirmed the diagnosis and performed a heart catheterization procedure. Mariah’s mother, Megan Thomas (Thomas), initiated Medical Review Panel proceedings with the Patient’s Compensation Fund against Dr. Dalal and the hospital defendants, alleging medical malpractice and seeking damages for their alleged failure to properly diagnose and treat Mariah. In addition to the Medical Review Panel proceedings, Thomas filed suit against the hospitals: The Regional Health System of Acadiana, LLC, Women’s & Children’s Hospital, Inc., HCA Holdings, Inc. W&C, and LGMC. The issue presented for the Louisiana Supreme Court's review centered on allegations of negligent credentialing against Dr. Dalal, and whether those allegations fell within the scope of the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act, or alternatively, sounded in general negligence. The Supreme Court reversed the appellate court, and reinstated the trial court's judgment sustaining the hospital defendants' exceptions of prematurity. View "Thomas v. Regional Health System of Acadiana, LLC." on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice action, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court excluding Plaintiffs' proximate cause expert's testimony, holding that the district court did not err. Plaintiffs brought suit against the University of Utah Hospital alleging that the Hospital's treatment of their daughter's baclofen withdrawal caused the daughter's permanent injuries. The Hospital filed a motion in limine to exclude the testimony of Plaintiffs' causation expert, arguing that the testimony should be barred under Utah R. Evid. 702 because the expert's opinion was not based upon sufficient facts or data. The district court agreed and excluded the testimony. At issue on appeal was whether the threshold showing that the principles or methods underlying in the expert's testimony were based upon sufficient facts or data where the method - logical deduction - was based upon broad and attenuated facts. The Supreme Court held that the showing was not present in this case, and therefore, the district court properly excluded the expert testimony on proximate cause. View "Taylor v. University of Utah" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's medical malpractice action on statute of limitations grounds, holding that because the face of the complaint showed that the action was barred by the statute of limitations the district court properly granted Defendant's motion to dismiss. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that Defendant waived the statute of limitations defense and that, even if he did not, dismissal on statute of limitations grounds was not proper. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no basis to find that Defendant waived the statute of limitations defense; and (2) the face of the complaint showed that the action was barred by the statute of limitations. View "Bonness v. Armitage" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the intermediate court of appeals' (ICA) judgment affirming the judgment of the circuit court in favor of Dr. Robert Mastroianni on Plaintiff's claim that Dr. Mastroianni's negligence was the cause of Robert Frey's death, holding that the circuit court erred in holding that Plaintiff failed as a matter of law to present sufficient evidence of causation to make out a claim. Among other things, the circuit court held that it had no jurisdiction over Plaintiff's "loss of chance" claim - a claim that Dr. Mastroianni's negligence caused Frey to lose a chance of recovery or survival - because the claim was not raised before the medical claim conciliation panel (MCCP). The ICA affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the lower courts' judgments, holding (1) while a "loss of chance" is not a separate compensable injury under Hawai'i law, it may be considered in determining legal causation; (2) Plaintiff asserted a medical negligence claim that met the requirements of the MCCP statute, and therefore, the circuit court had jurisdiction over Plaintiff's negligence claim, including its loss of chance arguments; and (3) the circuit court erred in granting judgment as a matter of law to Dr. Mastroianni. View "Estate of Frey v. Mastroianni" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's grant of summary judgment for Defendants - a hospital and various doctors and nurses - and dismissing Plaintiff's medical malpractice claims, holding that Plaintiffs' claims were properly dismissed. When she was in active labor Plaintiff was admitted to the University of Louisville Hospital. The next day, Plaintiff delivered her baby. During her delivery, Plaintiff suffered a fourth-degree laceration, and two weeks later she was diagnosed with a rectovaginal fistula. Plaintiff sued several healthcare defendants, including the doctors under whose care Plaintiff delivered her baby. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of all defendants, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff's claims against her treating physicians were time barred; and (2) no genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether the treating physicians were ostensible agents of the hospital, and therefore, the lower courts correctly dismissed the claims against the hospital. View "Sneed v. University of Louisville Hospital" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiffs' health care liability action as time-barred, holding that Plaintiffs were not entitled to the 120-day extension of the statute of limitations due to their noncompliance with Tenn. Code Ann. 29-26-121 (section 121). Before Plaintiffs filed a health care liability action Plaintiffs attempted to comply with section 121 by notifying Defendants of their intent to file suit. Plaintiffs subsequently voluntarily nonsuited their lawsuit. Less than one year later, Plaintiffs filed a second lawsuit alleging the same health care liability claims against Defendants. To establish the timeliness of the second lawsuit, Plaintiffs relied on the savings statute. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that Plaintiffs' pre-suit notice was not substantially compliant with section 121, and therefore, Plaintiffs were not entitled to the 120-day extension of the statute of limitations so that their first lawsuit was not timely filed. Therefore, Defendants argued, Plaintiffs' second lawsuit was untimely. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit. The Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal, holding (1) Plaintiffs failed to establish either substantial compliance or extraordinary cause to excuse their noncompliance with section 121; and (2) therefore, Plaintiffs could not rely on the one-year savings statute to establish the timeliness of their lawsuit. View "Martin v. Rolling Hills Hospital, LLC" on Justia Law

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In these three medical malpractice actions the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's denial of Defendants' motions to dismiss and remanded to uphold Plaintiffs' opportunity to develop and present evidence in support of the "fraudulent concealment" exception to the two-year limitations period, holding that Plaintiffs sufficiently alleged fraudulent concealment to avoid dismissal and that the sufficiency of the evidence was a matter for summary judgment or trial. In each case, Defendants moved to dismiss on the ground that Plaintiffs' claims were time-barred under the Utah Health Care Malpractice Act and that the time bar was not tolled by either the foreign object or fraudulent concealment exceptions set forth in the statute in part because Plaintiffs did not allege fraudulent concealment with the particularity required by Utah R. Civ. P. 2(c). The motions to dismiss were denied in large part. The Supreme Court affirmed the decisions denying the motions to dismiss on time-bar grounds and reversed the decision dismissing the negligent credentialing claim, holding (1) Plaintiffs sufficiently alleged fraudulent concealment to avoid dismissal; (2) the foreign object exception did not apply in this case; and (3) the Act did not retroactively bar Plaintiffs' negligent credentialing claims. View "Bright v. Sorensen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Plaintiffs' medical malpractice action, holding that the circuit court did not err in instructing the jury on the "alternative methods" paragraph of Wis JI-Civil 1023. London Barney was born with severe and permanent neurologic injuries. London and his mother, Raquel Barney, filed a medical malpractice action alleging that Dr. Julie Mickelson was negligent for failing accurately to trace London's fetal heart rate during Raquel's labor. The jury found that Dr. Mickelson was not negligent in her care and treatment of the plaintiffs. The court of appeals reversed and remanded the case for a new trial, concluding that the alternative methods instruction given to the jury likely misled the jury. This instruction generally informed the jury that Defendant was not negligent if she used reasonable care, skill and judgment in administering any one of the recognized reasonable treatment methods for monitoring London's heart rate. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, based on all of the expert testimony introduced at trial, the jury was properly given the alternative methods instruction. View "Barney v. Mickelson" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of HIMA San Pablo Caguas's motion for judgment as a matter of law as well as its remitted verdict after a jury found HIMA responsible for ten percent of Plaintiff's damages, holding that the jury had a legally sufficient evidentiary basis to find HIMA responsible for ten percent of Plaintiff's damages and that the district court did not abuse its discretion in remitting the verdict. Plaintiff's father died from complications relating to the removal of his dialysis catheter at a HIMA facility. Plaintiff sued HIMA and other defendants, alleging negligence. The jury found the co-defendants jointly liable for medical malpractice and awarded Plaintiff $1,000,000 in compensatory damages, finding HIMA responsible for ten percent of Plaintiff's damages. HIMA moved for judgment as a matter of law and, in the alternative, for remittitur of the jury's damages award. The district court denied the motion for judgment as a matter of law but granted remittitur, reducing the damages award to $400,000. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in denying HIMA's motion for judgment of a matter of law and did not abue its discretion in applying the federal standard in its remittitur analysis and remitting the verdict. View "Suero-Algarin v. HIMA San Pablo Caguas" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held a doctor who was permitted to practice medicine in Tennessee under a statutory licensure exemption but was not licensed to practice in Tennessee or a contiguous state during the year before the date of the alleged injury or wrongful conduct does not meet the requirements of Tenn. Code Ann. 29-26-115(b) to testify as an expert witness in a health care liability action. Plaintiff brought this action against Thomas Killian, M.D. and Frist Cardiology, PLLC (collectively, Defendants) alleging that Defendants' negligent conduct caused her husband's death. Plaintiff named Dr. Jason A. Rytlewski as the expert witness who would testify that Dr. Killian deviated from the applicable standard of care in his treatment of the decedent. Defendants moved for summary judgment, asserting that Dr. Rytlewski did not have a medical license in Tennessee or a contiguous state the year before the decedent's heart procedure, as required by section 29-26-115(b). In response, Plaintiff explained that Dr. Rytlewski had been granted an exemption allowing him to practice medicine without a medical license. The trial court allowed Dr. Rytlewski's testimony. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Dr. Rytlewski was not qualified to testify as an expert as an expert witness in this health care liability case. View "Young v. Frist Cardiology, PLLC" on Justia Law