Articles Posted in Alabama Supreme Court

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Jamie Gaddy appealed a circuit court judgment that dismissed with prejudice Gaddy's medical-malpractice action against certified nurse anesthetist Lisa Brascho. According to Gaddy, the reason she requested the dismissal of her trial court case against Brascho was to seek appellate review of the trial court's decision granting Brascho's motion in limine. However, the Supreme Court has previously stated that "where the plaintiff knowingly and willingly agrees to a stipulation of dismissal, he has no standing to appeal." Therefore, based on Gaddy's failure to demonstrate to the Supreme Court that it had jurisdiction over Gaddy's appeal, the Court dismissed the appeal. View "Gaddy v. Brascho " on Justia Law

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Toma E. Smith, as personal representative of the estate of Tiffani P. Smith, appeals the grant of a summary judgment in favor of Dr. James Fleming, and a judgment entered in favor of Dr. Winfield S. Fisher III and the University of Alabama Foundation on her wrongful death claims. Dr. Fisher and the Foundation cross-appealed, arguing that the action should have been dismissed as being void ab initio. Based on the trial court record, the Supreme Court concluded the trial court did not err in entering a summary judgment in favor of Dr. Fleming. The Court concluded the trial court did not err in its judgment in favor of Dr. Fisher and the Foundation. View "Smith v. Winfield" on Justia Law

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Felice McGathey appealed a circuit court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Brookwood Health Services, Inc., d/b/a Brookwood Medical Center, and Scott Appell, M.D., in her medical malpractice action; she also challenged the trial court's order denying her motion for leave to amend her complaint to substitute real parties for fictitiously named defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed in part, and reversed in part. McGathey suffered a severe burn on the little finger of her left hand, permanent disfigurement and impaired mobility following left-shoulder arthroscopy, subacromial decompression, and distal clavicle resection. A Spider Limb Positioner was used in the surgery. A part of the positioner was sterilized, but was not given a chance to cool down before it was used in the surgery. And because defendants allowed the hot part to be used on McGathey during the surgery, she suffered her injuries. Based on a review of the record, the Supreme Court concluded that McGathey produced substantial evidence of negligence for one of the Brookwood employees and reversed the grant of summary judgment in that defendant's favor. The Court affirmed the summary judgment in favor of Dr. Appell. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "McGathey v. Brookwood Health Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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Daniel Ernest Hegarty, M.D., and the Monroeville Medical Clinic appealed a circuit court judgment entered in favor of Dixie Hudson in her medical-malpractice action. Dr. Hegarty delivered Hudson's baby via cesarian-section ("C-section") in 2004. During the operation, but after the baby had been delivered, the placenta became detached from the baby's umbilical cord. Dr. Hegarty searched within and beyond Hudson's uterus but was unable to locate the placenta. Dr. Hegarty requested assistance from his partner at the time, who also tried to locate the placenta but was unsuccessful. Following the operation, Hudson experienced severe pain in her abdomen and dramatic weight loss. Dr. Hegarty eventually ordered a CT scan to be performed and at that time, a mass was located in Hudson's abdomen. Dr. Hegarty then referred Hudson to Dr. Fahy, who subsequently referred her to a doctor in Mobile, who identified and surgically removed the retained placenta from Hudson's abdomen. Hudson sued in 2006 alleging medical negligence. The defendants contended on appeal that the trial court erred in allowing Hudson's expert witness to testify as an expert regarding the applicable standard of care and Dr. Hegarty's alleged breach of it. Defendants also argued that the trial court's charge to the jury was improper and that the judgment against Dr. Hegarty violated public policy. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the trial court exceeded its discretion in allowing Hudson's expert to testify, and as such, erred in denying the doctor's motions for judgment as a matter of law. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court and rendered judgment in favor of Dr. Hegarty. View "Hegarty v. Hudson " on Justia Law

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SSC Montgomery Cedar Crest Operating Company, LLC appealed a circuit court judgment denying its motion to compel arbitration of the medical-malpractice claim asserted against it by Linda Bolding, as attorney in fact and next friend of her father, Norton Means. In early 2012, Means was hospitalized after experiencing stroke and/or heart-attack symptoms. He was admitted to Cedar Crest, a nursing-home facility operated by SSC Montgomery, to receive rehabilitation and nursing services while he recovered. At the time Means was admitted to Cedar Crest, he was accompanied by his daughter, Michelle Pleasant, who completed the necessary paperwork on his behalf. Among the paperwork completed and signed by Pleasant was a dispute-resolution agreement (the "DRA") providing that the "parties" waived their right to a judge or jury trial in the event a dispute arose between them and instead agreed to resolve any such dispute by way of a dispute-resolution program consisting of mediation and binding arbitration. Several months later, Means was hospitalized again. In the second hospitalization, another of his daughters, Linda Bolding, whom Means had previously granted a durable power of attorney, sued SSC Montgomery, alleging that Cedar Crest staff had negligently cared for Means, causing him to suffer dehydration, malnourishment, and an untreated infection that combined to result in his second hospitalization. SSC Montgomery filed both its answer denying Bolding's allegations and a motion to compel arbitration pursuant to the terms of the DRA. Bolding subsequently filed a response, arguing that it would be improper to enforce the DRA because Pleasant had no legal authority to act on Means's behalf at the time Pleasant executed the DRA. Following a September hearing, the trial court entered an order denying SSC Montgomery's motion to compel arbitration. SSC Montgomery then appealed to the Supreme Court. Upon review, the Court concluded that Pleasant's signature on the arbitration agreement was ineffective to bind Means, and by extension his legal representative Bolding, because the evidence indicates he was mentally incompetent at the time Pleasant executed the agreement. View "SSC Montgomery Cedar Crest Operating Company, LLC v. Bolding" on Justia Law

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Defendants Randall Boudreaux, M.D., Don Ortego, and Coastal Anesthesia, P.C. appealed a $4,000,000 judgment against them, following a remittitur of a $20,000,000 jury verdict in favor of Paula Pettaway, as administratrix of the estate of Paulett Pettaway Hall, on her wrongful-death/medical-malpractice claim. Upon review of the case, the Supreme Court concluded that the trial court correctly denied the defendants' request for a new trial and appropriately refused to further remit the jury's punitive damages award. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed. View "Boudreaux v. Pettaway" on Justia Law

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Dr. Zenko J. Hrynkiw and Zenko J. Hrynkiw, M.D., P.C., appealed a judgment entered in favor of Thomas and Barbara Trammell in their medical-malpractice action. In 2005, Dr. Hrynkiw, a neurosurgeon, performed fusion surgery on Thomas's spine to relieve pain in his lower back and pain and numbness in his right leg and foot caused by a herniated disk that was creating pressure on a nerve. Immediately following the surgery, Thomas experienced weakness, numbness, and pain in his lower extremities. A second surgery provided Thomas no relief, and he was permanently partially disabled. In 2007, Thomas and his wife Barbara sued Dr. Hrynkiw, alleging negligent diagnosis, treatment and postoperative care. Barbara asserted a claim of loss of consortium. Dr. Hrynkiw raised two issues on appeal: (1) whether the trial court erred by not granting Hrynkiw's judgment as a matter of law on the Trammells' claim relating to Dr. Hrynkiw's postoperative care because the Trammells failed to present substantial evidence that any of Thomas's injuries were probably caused by Dr. Hrynkiw's postoperative care; and (2) whether the trial court erred in allowing hearsay testimony under the learned-treatise exception when, Hrynkiw says, the foundational requirements of Rule 803(18), Ala. R. Evid., were not met. Finding sufficient evidence to support the judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court. View "Hrynkiw v. Trammell" on Justia Law

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Appellee Younus Ismail, M.D. appealed a trial court's denial of his motion for summary judgment pertaining to claims made by Appellants Randy and Joy Paradise. Mr. Paradise was treated in the emergency room of Highlands Medical Center, and a chest x-ray was ordered as part of his treatment. While in the radiology department, he fell and was injured. Mr. and Mrs. Paradise filed suit alleging negligence and wantonness stemming from Mr. Paradise's injuries. Dr. Ismail was the emergency room physician "in charge and control of [Mr.] Paradise's treatment." The Doctor filed a motion to dismiss the charges, arguing the claim was barred by a two-year statute of limitations. Upon review of the trial court's record and the applicable legal authority, the Supreme Court found that the claim was indeed time-barred as to Dr. Ismail. The Court vacated the trial court's order denying the Doctor's motion and remanded the case for the trial court to enter summary judgment in the Doctor's favor. View "Paradise v. Highlands Medical Ctr." on Justia Law