Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's reduction of a damages award in favor of Appellant in a medical negligence case against University Physician Associates (UPA) and various physicians (collectively, the Physicians), holding that the circuit court did not err.Appellant filed this lawsuit alleging that the Physicians acted negligently in the Caesarean delivery of her child and in her postpartum care. The jury allocated 100 percent of fault to the Physicians and awarded $30,000 in past economic damages, $300,000 in past non-economic damages, and $700,000 in future non-economic damages. The circuit court concluded that Mo. Rev. Stat. 538.210.2(2)'s non-economic damages for catastrophic personal injury applied and reduced the non-economic damages award from $1 million to $748,828. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 538.210's non-economic damage caps do not violate Mo. Const. art. I, 22(a); and (2) the Physicians' points on appeal lacked merit. View "Ordinola Velazquez v. University Physician Associates" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff Rodney Davis, a physician assistant, learned to perform liposuction under the guidance of a physician. Davis grew dissatisfied with the physician for whom he worked, so he decided to establish a new practice. To do so, Davis needed a physician to serve as his supervising physician. Davis found Dr. Jerrell Borup, who had been an anesthesiologist for 18 years, but who had not practiced medicine for 12 years. Before meeting Davis, Borup had never performed liposuction or other surgery. Borup agreed to serve as “Medical Director,” although he would never perform a procedure at the new practice. Borup’s role, in practice, consisted of reviewing charts. Davis, who gave himself the title of “Director of Surgery,” would perform all of the liposuction procedures. Davis opened his practice, Pacific Liposculpture, in September 2010. In 2015, the Physician Assistant Board (the Board) filed an accusation accusing Davis of, among other things, the unlicensed practice of medicine, gross negligence, repeated negligent acts, and false and/or misleading advertising. An administrative law judge (ALJ) found the Board’s accusations were established by clear and convincing evidence, and recommended the revocation of Davis’s license. The Board adopted the ALJ’s findings and recommendations. Davis filed a petition for a writ of administrative mandamus seeking, inter alia, a writ compelling the Board to set aside its decision. The trial court denied the petition. On appeal, Davis argued the ALJ erred in finding that he committed the various acts alleged, and that the findings were not supported by substantial evidence. He further claimed that the discipline imposed constituted a manifest abuse of discretion. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Davis v. Physician Assistant Board" on Justia Law

by
Carolyn Bowen sued Cottage Grove Nursing Home for wrongful death and medical negligence on behalf of her husband, Guy Bowen. Guy Bowen had been a resident of Cottage Grove since June 2016. In May 2017, Guy was diagnosed with prostate cancer that had metastasized into his organs and bones. In October 2017, Guy fell in the shower at Cottage Grove and sustained multiple fractures. The attending radiologist noted that the fractures were likely pathologic. Guy was transferred to a rehabilitation facility and then to Pleasant Hill Nursing Home. Guy did not return to Cottage Grove. On March 18, 2018, Guy presented to the emergency department at UMMC with various pain. A CT scan showed diffuse metastatic disease through his liver and widespread osseous disease in his bones. Guy died five days later. Carolyn in her suit, Carolyn claimed that Guy’s fall at Cottage Grove, in which he sustained multiple fractures, was the cause of Guy’s death five months later. Cottage Grove filed a summary-judgment motion for Carolyn’s failure to produce medical-expert testimony. The Mississippi Supreme Court determined the trial court erred by denying Cottage Grove’s summary-judgment motion. "Cottage Grove met its summary-judgment burden by showing that Carolyn had failed to produce sworn expert testimony establishing a prima facie case of medical negligence." View "Cottage Grove Nursing Home, L.P. v. Bowen" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff Brenda Bergeron, individually and on behalf of her husband, Donald Bergeron, filed a medical malpractice claim against Donald Richardson, M.D. and Paul Hubbell, III, M.D. A medical review panel unanimously found Defendants breached the standard of care. Two of the three panel members found Defendants caused Mr. Bergeron’s pain, illness, and death. Plaintiff then filed wrongful death and survival actions against Defendants. Nearly six years later, Defendants filed a motion for bond for cost pursuant to Louisiana Revised Statutes 13:4522. Plaintiff opposed the motion on several grounds, namely : (1) the motion was untimely under the plain language of the statute; (2) the costs claimed by Defendants were expenses, not actual taxable costs; and (3) she challenged the constitutionality of the statute. After a hearing, the trial court denied the motion for bond for cost, finding it untimely. The trial court concluded Louisiana Revised Statutes 13:4522 precluded a motion for a cost bond after the defendant’s answer is filed. Because the motion was denied, the trial court found the constitutional claim moot. The Court of Appeal reversed, but the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed the appellate court, concurring with the trial court that defendants' motion for bond for costs was untimely. View "Bergeron v. Richardson et al." on Justia Law

by
John Dee and Brenda Peterson appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Triad of Alabama, LLC, d/b/a Flowers Hospital ("Triad") on the Petersons' claims asserted in their medical-malpractice action. John was admitted to Flowers Hospital ("the hospital") in August 2014 for treatment of abdominal pain and fever that was caused by colitis. John was suffering from chronic lymphocytic leukemia, end-stage renal disease, and diabetes. While he was admitted to the hospital in August 2014, John had a peripherally inserted central catheter ("PICC line") in his left shoulder. According to the Petersons, after John had suffered "constant pain and aggravation" around the area where the PICC line was inserted, a doctor agreed to have the PICC line removed the following morning. The Petersons asserted that, a nurse, Matthew Starr, was busy with other patients to immediately remove the line. The Petersons contended that another doctor was then called, that the doctor advised the nurses treating John to take out the PICC line, and that the nurses refused. The Petersons asserted that Starr "abandoned" John. Thereafter, John experienced a deep vein thrombosis ("DVT") in his upper left arm, which caused swelling and tissue necrosis. The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed, finding that the Petersons did not make an argument supported by sufficient authority to demonstrate the trial court erred. "They failed to present expert medical testimony from a similarly situated health-care provider to establish the applicable standard of care, a deviation from that standard, and proximate causation linking the actions of hospital staff to John's injury." View "Peterson v. Triad of Alabama, LLC, d/b/a Flowers Hospital" on Justia Law

by
Yshekia Fletcher appealed the grant of summary judgment entered in favor of the Health Care Authority of the City of Huntsville d/b/a Huntsville Hospital ("the Authority") on Fletcher's claims asserted in her medical-malpractice action. In 2016, Fletcher was admitted to Huntsville Hospital to undergo a laparoscopic tubal-ligation surgery. Before the surgery, Fletcher's doctor, Dr. Leon Lewis, explained to Fletcher that he might have issues performing the surgery because of her obesity. During the procedure, Fletcher was placed in a Trendelenburg position - a position that lowers the head of the patient by manipulating the angle of the operating table. While in Trendelenburg, Fletcher began to slip downward off the operating table. Nursing staff caught Fletcher’s body and gently placed her on the operating room floor, where the surgeon removed the trocars and closed the incisions. After the procedure, Fletcher underwent a CT scan of her head, neck, and hip, which were normal. She was admitted overnight and discharged the following day. Fletcher later complained of hip pain after the incident. She was evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon, who noted that she had a contusion and that she had had right-hip surgery as a child. Fletcher was admitted to the hospital overnight and discharged the following day with a walker. The Alabama Supreme Court concluded the trial court correctly entered summary judgment in favor of the Authority based on Fletcher's failure to present expert medical testimony. View "Fletcher v. Health Care Authority of the City of Huntsville d/b/a Huntsville Hospital" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court accepted a question certified by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and answered that the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act applies when a plaintiff alleges that a qualified healthcare provider treated someone else negligently and that the negligent treatment injured the plaintiff.Plaintiff was the husband and father of two individuals killed in a car crash caused by Physician's patient. Plaintiff filed a civil action in federal court alleging that Physician's negligence in prescribing opiates to his patient caused the wrongful deaths of his wife and daughter. The state insurance commissioner, who administered the Patient's Compensation Fund, received permission to intervene. Plaintiff settled with Physician, who was dismissed. Plaintiff then sought excess damages from the Fund. The Fund responded that it had no liability because the underlying claim was not covered by the Act. The district court entered judgment for the Fund. On appeal, the Seventh Circuit certified to questions to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court declined to answer question one and answered question two in the affirmative, holding that the Act applies where a plaintiff alleges that a qualified healthcare provider's negligent treatment of someone else caused the plaintiff to suffer an injury. View "Cutchin v. Beard" on Justia Law

by
Paramedics rushed Millicent to Franciscan, a designated acute‐stroke‐ready hospital. Franciscan transferred her to its intensive care unit. Three days later, Millicent suffered a stroke. Her condition deteriorated and she was put on life support. The family expressed concern about the adequacy of care and sought to transfer Millicent to another facility. Franciscan assisted in submitting transfer paperwork to two other hospitals. Both declined the requests for insurance reasons. While a third transfer request was pending, Franciscan advised the family that Millicent was brain dead and that it had decided to stop treatment. Nearly two years later, Nartey reviewed Millicent’s medical records, which she claimed lacked the transfer paperwork and test results.Nartey, acting pro se, sued. The court grouped Nartey’s complaint into claims that Franciscan violated the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) by failing to provide adequate care or to transfer Millicent, 42 U.S.C. 1395dd; that Franciscan violated Title VI, which prohibits federally funded programs from discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin, 42 U.S.C. 2000d, and that Franciscan fraudulently concealed test results, preventing Nartey from timely bringing a medical malpractice claim.The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. Although Nartey missed filing deadlines, the court addressed the merits. EMTALA is not a malpractice statute covering treatment after an emergency patient is screened and admitted. While Nartey presented some statistical evidence that hospital transfers are less common among racial minorities, Franciscan was not responsible for Millicent remaining there. A reasonable inquiry would have discovered the alleged concealment. View "Nartey v. Franciscan Health Hospital" on Justia Law

by
Jackson Hospital & Clinic, Inc. ("Jackson Hospital") appealed the denial of its postjudgment motion seeking a judgment as a matter of law or, in the alternative, a new trial following the entry of a judgment on a jury verdict against Jackson Hospital and in favor of plaintiff, Cameron Murphy. In February 2011, Murphy, after experiencing back pain, was referred for treatment to Dr. Margaret Vereb, a board-certified urologist employed by Jackson Hospital. Dr. Vereb determined that Murphy had kidney stones and recommended a ureteroscopy procedure to remove the stones. During that procedure, Dr. Vereb used a glidewire to establish the correct surgical path to Murphy's kidneys through his urinary tract. Dr. Vereb then used a laser to break the kidney stones into smaller fragments for removal. Following an uneventful period of recovery, the surgery was deemed successful, and Murphy was released. During a postoperative evaluation two days later, it was reported that Murphy had been experiencing pain, but he was assured that such symptoms were normal. Murphy was prescribed pain medication and discharged. In June 2011, however, Murphy experienced painful urination and blood in his urine. An X-ray performed at that time revealed that a piece of the glidewire used during the ureteroscopy procedure remained lodged in Murphy's bladder. Upon seeking treatment from another urologist, a 5.6 centimeter glidewire fragment was removed from Murphy's bladder. Murphy subsequently sued both Dr. Vereb and Jackson Hospital alleging claims under the Alabama Medical Liability Act ("the AMLA"). The Alabama Supreme Court found Murphy presented no evidence -- in the form of expert testimony or otherwise -- that Jackson Hospital breached the applicable standard of care in any manner, Murphy failed to present evidence substantiating an essential element of his defective-equipment claim against Jackson Hospital, and therefore the jury's verdict on that claim was unsupported. Therefore, Jackson Hospital was entitled to a judgment as a matter of law in its favor. The judgment entered on the jury's verdict against Jackson Hospital was reversed. View "Jackson Hospital & Clinic, Inc. v. Murphy" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that 42 U.S.C. 1983 preempted the expert report requirement in the Texas Medical Liability Act (TMLA), set forth in Chapter 74 Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, holding that the court of appeals erred in this respect.The claims in this case were asserted against a state mental health facility and its employees arising from the death of a patient. The claims were pleaded as claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983. In response, Defendants asserted that Plaintiff's claims were healthcare liability claims subject to the requirements of the TMLA. Defendants then moved to dismiss the claims for failure to serve an expert report under section 74.351(b). The trial court denied the motion to dismiss. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that all of Plaintiff's claims were healthcare liability claims but that section 1983 preempted the expert report requirement of the TMLA. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the court of appeals correctly determined that all of the causes of action Plaintiff asserted were healthcare liability claims under the TMLA; but (2) section 1983 does not preempt the TMLA's expert report requirement, and the court of appeals erred in holding otherwise. View "Rogers v. Bagley" on Justia Law