Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

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Mississippi Baptist Medical Center (MBMC) sought, and the Mississippi Supreme Court granted interlocutory appeal challenging a circuit court's denial of its motion for summary judgment. Mississippi Baptist Health System (MBHS) also appealed the circuit court’s order granting summary judgment in its favor, claiming that the circuit court erred by granting the judgment without prejudice instead of with prejudice. In 2016, Roosevelt Ard arrived at the emergency room at MBMC complaining of chest pain and leg numbness after earlier undergoing an outpatient cardiac stress test. Ard was checked by two nurses and seen by an emergency room physician, Dr. William Dawson, an emergency-medicine physician employed by Mississippi Physicians, LLP. Dr. Dawson ordered one shot of Dilaudid for Ard’s pain. He then ordered a chest X-ray and EKG, which were both normal, ruling out cardiovascular issues. Dr. Dawson diagnosed Ard with acute back strain and discharged him with a prescription for oral pain relief and muscle relaxants. Eight hours after being discharged, Ard became unresponsive at home and was rushed to the emergency room at University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) via ambulance, where he was pronounced dead after cardiac arrest. Ard’s autopsy report showed that the cause of death was aortic dissection. Plaintiffs, Ard's family, filed a complaint against MBMC, MBHS, Dr. Dawson, and Mississippi Physicians, arguing: (1) MBMC was vicariously liable for the medical care rendered by Dr. Dawson at MBMC’s emergency department; and (2) MBMC was vicariously liable for the allegedly negligent care provided by its nursing employees in the emergency department. After the Plaintiffs did not answer MBMC and Dr. Dawson’s propounded discovery for two years, MBMC filed a motion for summary judgment. MBMC claimed it was not vicariously liable and that negligence could not have proximately caused Ard’s injuries. The Mississippi Supreme Court found that the circuit erred by denying MBMC’s motion for summary judgment since the Plaintiffs failed to establish the element of causation in their medical-malpractice claim against MBMC. The Court also found that the circuit court erred by not dismissing the Plaintiffs’ claims against MBHS with prejudice. View "Mississippi Baptist Health Systems Inc. et al. v. Harris" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying Plaintiff's petition for a writ of mandamus to direct Judge Stockton Wood of the Fleming Circuit Court to issue various orders in her favor, holding that a writ of mandamus was inappropriate.Plaintiff filed a third amended complaint against radiologists and health care providers alleging medical negligence, spoliation, abuse of process, obstruction of justice, and other claims. During a two-month period the trial court entered fourteen separate orders. Plaintiff sought a writ of mandamus directing the court to issue orders in her favor. The court of appeals denied the petition for a writ of mandamus. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that an adequate remedy by appeal existed for each of the errors Plaintiff alleged. View "Johnson v. Honorable Stockton Wood" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the circuit court denying Appellant's petition for a writ prohibiting the Jefferson Circuit Court from enforcing its order allowing the use of a root-cause analysis report (RCA) at trial for impeachment purposes, holding that the RCA was privileged.At issue on appeal was whether Ky. Rev. Stat. 311.377, as amended, protected the RCA from being admitted at trial. The trial court concluded that the RCA could be used at trial for the purpose of impeachment. Appellant sought a writ of prohibition, but the court of appeals denied the petition. The Supreme Court reversed and granted a writ prohibiting the circuit court from enforcing its order permitting the admission of the privileged material for impeachment purposes, holding that where this case concerned the potential violation of an applicable privilege, the certain special cases exception was met. View "Jewish Hospital v. Honorable Mitch Perry" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Darren Hulbert, a self-represented indigent inmate, appealed the dismissal of his medical malpractice suit Richard Cross, M.D. Dr. Cross performed a radial head resection and arthroplasty on Hulbert’s right elbow. Hulbert alleged that Dr. Cross negligently failed to tighten a screw in the implant, which resulted in the screw coming loose and damaging Hulbert’s elbow joint, cartilage, and surrounding tissue. To help establish his claim, Hulbert filed a motion for appointment of legal counsel and a medical expert. The trial court denied the motion and subsequently found that Hulbert could not rebut the declaration of Dr. Cross’s medical expert without providing medical expert evidence of his own. On this basis, the trial court granted Dr. Cross’s motion for summary judgment. On appeal, Hulbert contended: (1) he was deprived of meaningful access to the courts because the trial court denied him the assistance of a medical expert while requiring a medical expert to establish a triable issue of material fact; (2) the trial court failed to exercise its discretion by considering all of the remedies available to ensure that he had meaningful access to the courts; (3) the trial court erred in determining there was no triable issue of material fact because the loose screw itself did not prove medical negligence; (4) the trial court erred in refusing to appoint legal counsel; (5) Dr. Cross did not provide informed consent prior to the procedure; (6) the declaration by Dr. Cross’s medical expert was insufficient to overcome a presumption of negligence because Dr. Cross’s operation notes failed to show compliance with the implant manufacturer’s instructions. After review, the Court of Appeal concluded the trial did not properly exercise informed discretion with respect to ensuring access to the courts when it denied Hulbert’s motion for appointment of a medical expert. The trial court’s statement that it lacked authority to appoint legal counsel required remand to allow the trial court to consider and clarify which remedies were appropriate in this case to protect Hulbert’s right to meaningful access to the court. View "Hulbert v. Cross" on Justia Law

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Inmate Robinson was offered new medication. Unaware of any prescription, he questioned the officer who gave it to him and followed up with the health services manager and others. Despite learning that there was no record of any new prescription for him, Robinson took the medication. Days later, Robinson passed out. A nurse advised him to keep taking the medication. Robinson then was sent to an outside hospital, where doctors surmised that he might be allergic to the medication. The prescription was meant for a different inmate. Robinson sued. The defendants moved for summary judgment; 20 days after his deadline for filing a brief in opposition, Robinson filed a brief to support his own request for summary judgment, supplemented by a proposed statement of facts. He did not respond to the defendants’ statement of facts. The district court granted the defendants summary judgment.The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The district court permissibly applied Eastern District of Wisconsin Local Rule 56(b)(4) to deem the defendants’ facts unopposed, regardless of Robinson’s later filings. Based on those facts, no reasonable jury could find deliberate indifference to a serious medical risk. Nor could a jury conclude that the health‐services manager violated his constitutional rights by failing to intervene. Robinson’s state‐law negligence claims were barred by Wisconsin’s notice‐of‐claim statute. The defendants were not entitled to summary judgment based only on Robinson's failure to timely respond. View "Robinson v. Waterman" on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice action, the Supreme Court vacated the order of the superior court granting Plaintiff's motion for a new trial after the jury found that Defendant breached the duty of care owed to the patient in this case, holding that the trial justice erred by replacing the jury's determination with her own.After Patricia Kinney died from complications related to her battle with ovarian cancer, Plaintiff brought this action, asserting that Defendant negligently performed a surgical procedure and post-surgical follow-up. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff on the issue of negligence and for Defendant on the issue of proximate cause. The trial justice granted Plaintiff's motion for a new trial, finding that the verdict was against the fair preponderance of the evidence and failed to do substantial justice. The Supreme Court vacated the order, holding that reasonable minds could have come to different conclusions on the question of whether Plaintiff had met her burden of establishing that Defendant's breach was the cause of Kinney's death. View "Joplin v. Cassin" on Justia Law

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In this healthcare liability action filed by a surgery patient and her husband, the Supreme Court reversed the holding of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court applying the statutory cap to Plaintiffs separately, holding that the language to Tenn. Code Ann. 29-39-102 allowed both plaintiffs to recover only $750,000 in the aggregate for noneconomic damages.The patient brought this negligence action against defendant physicians for noneconomic damages, arguing that a portion of a Gelport device was unintentionally left in her body after surgery. The patient's husband claimed damages for loss of consortium in the same action. The jury awarded the patient $4 million in damages and awarded her spouse $500,000 in damages for loss of consortium. The trial court initially entered a judgment of $750,000 in the aggregate in favor of both Plaintiffs but subsequently granted Plaintiffs' motion to alter or amend. The court then applied the statutory cap to each plaintiff separately, awarding the patient $750,000 and her husband $500,000. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that section 29-389-102 creates a single cap on noneconomic damages that includes those awarded to the injured spouse, as well as those damages award to the other spouse for a derivative loss of consortium claim. View "Yebuah v. Center For Urological Treatment, PLC" on Justia Law

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A physician's professional conduct was examined by the Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision. During the disciplinary proceeding a stipulated protective order was entered by the Board. The professional complaint against the physician was dismissed, and approximately two years later the physician requested the Board modify its protective order to allow the physician to use three documents in a different legal proceeding. The Board refused, and the physician appealed. After review, the Oklahoma Supreme Court held: (1) the stipulated blanket protective order making all documents in the administrative proceeding subject to the order and prohibiting their use in any other legal proceeding was contrary to the public policy expressed by the Oklahoma Open Records Act and the Oklahoma Discovery Code; and (2) the physician's claim seeking access to the initial report of misconduct was not properly before the Court. View "State ex rel. Okla. St. Bd. of Medical Licensure & Supervision v. Rivero" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the New Mexico Supreme Court’s review centered on whether the cap on all damages other than medical care and punitive damages under the Medical Malpractice Act (MMA), violated the right to trial by jury guaranteed by Article II, Section 12 of the New Mexico Constitution. Plaintiff Susan Siebert successfully sued her doctor, Rebecca Okun, M.D., and Women’s Specialists of New Mexico, Ltd. (WSNM) for medical malpractice under the MMA. Following the return of the jury’s verdict, Defendants Dr. Okun and WSNM moved to reduce the jury award of $2,600,000 to conform with the $600,000 cap on all nonmedical and nonpunitive damages in MMA actions. The district court denied Defendants’ motion, concluding that the MMA nonmedical, nonpunitive damages cap infringed the state constitutional right to a trial by jury. The Supreme Court held that the MMA nonmedical, nonpunitive damages cap did not violate Article II, Section 12, and reversed the district court’s denial of Defendants’ motion to conform the judgment in accordance with the statutory cap. View "Siebert v. Okun" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court awarding costs to Defendants under Va. Code 8.01-380 after the entry of a nonsuit order, holding that, under Rule 1:1, the written order awarding costs was untimely and must be vacated.Plaintiff filed a medical malpractice suit against Defendants. After the circuit court granted Defendants' motion to disqualify Plaintiff's expert witness, Plaintiff voluntarily nonsuited the case. Twenty days after entry of the nonsuit order, the court stated from the bench that it would award costs to Defendants. However, the court's written order awarding costs was entered more than twenty-one days after entry of the nonsuit order. The Supreme Court held that the order was void because it was entered more than twenty-one days following entry of the nonsuit order. View "Kosko v. Ramser" on Justia Law