Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court
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Appellants, several individuals and the administratrix of the estate of Arvilla Langston, filed a medical-malpractice action against Appellees, Sparks Regional Medical Center (SRMC) and Sparks Medical Foundation, alleging that Langston died as the result of SRMC's alleged failure to properly care for, diagnose, and treat Langston. Appellees filed an amended answer, and the circuit court dismissed the case on the grounds of charitable immunity. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred in failing to strike the amended answer. On remand, the circuit court granted summary judgment to Appellees. Appellants subsequently filed an amended complaint attempting to raise a pre-death claim not pled in the initial complaint. Appellants filed a motion for reconsideration and new trial. The circuit court denied Appellants' motion for reconsideration and new trial and granted SRMC's motion to strike Appellants' amended complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's ruling, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in granting summary judgment; (2) Appellants' failed to preserve for appeal their argument that the circuit court erred in failing to rule on a loss-of-chance theory of recovery; and (3) the circuit court did not manifestly abuse its discretion in striking Appellants' amended complaint. View "Neal v. Sparks Reg'l Med. Ctr." on Justia Law

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In this nursing-home, abuse-and-neglect complaint, Appellants, the licensee of the nursing home where Richard Hatchett was a resident, its management company, and the owner of both entities were sued for wrongful death, negligence, and breach of fiduciary and confidential duty. The complaint averred that the actions or inactions of Appellants caused Hatchett's death. Appellants filed timely answers, but the circuit court struck part of Appellants' answers as a sanction for discovery violations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in striking part of the answer, as (1) Appellants' failure to comply with discovery requests and orders was sufficient to impose discovery sanctions; and (2) the scope of the sanctions was appropriate. View "Lake Village Healthcare Ctr., LLC v. Hatchett" on Justia Law

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Appellant Harrill & Sutter filed a complaint in the circuit court alleging a violation of Arkansas's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Appellant had previously filed a medical-malpractice action against three physicians, who were employed by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Mariam Hopkins was hired to represent the physicians. Appellant subsequently filed a FOIA request asserting that because Hopkins represented public employees, Hopkins's file was a public record. Hopkins refused to allow Appellant to inspect the file, and Appellant filed the present case. The circuit court found (1) Hopkins, her firm, and the physicians were not the custodians for the FOIA request to UAMS or to the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees; (2) Appellees did not have administrative control of the public records of those entities; (3) the records sought by Appellant were not public records under FOIA and, therefore, were not subject to a FOIA request; and (4) the litigation files and documents sought by the FOIA request were subject to attorney-client privilege and were work-product. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in finding that FOIA did not apply. View "Harrill & Sutter, PLLC v. Farrar" on Justia Law

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Ketan Bulsara filed a medical-malpractice and wrongful-death action against Dr. Julia Watkins stemming from the stillbirth of his child. A jury returned a judgment in favor of Dr. Watkins. The trial court subsequently denied Bulsara's motion for new trial. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred in denying Bulsara's motion for a new trial where Bulsara demonstrated a reasonable possibility of prejudice in light of defense counsel's continued representation of Dr. Watkins after the filing of Bulsara's lawsuit while in possession of confidential information from an expert who previously consulted with Bulsara and his former counsel, in contravention of the Court's rules. View "Bulsara v. Watkins" on Justia Law

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Appellants, Little Rock Healthcare (LRHC), a nursing care facility; Donald Bedell, the sole member of the governing body for LRHC; and Heartland Personnel Leasing, appealed from a judgment in favor of Appellee Brenda Williams, as personal representative of the Estate of Minnie Valentine, who died after being discharged from LRHC. The Supreme Court reversed, dismissing Bedell and remanding for a new trial as to LRHC and Heartland, holding (1) the circuit court erred by denying Bedell's directed-verdict motion and judgment notwithstanding the verdict as Bedell owed no personal duty to Valentine; and (2) the circuit court erred in excluding Valentine's post discharge medical evidence, which error was prejudicial and warranted a new trial. View "Bedell v. Williams" on Justia Law

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Appellants, Theresa and Eddie Paulino, filed an action against Appellees, QHG of Springdale and NorthWest Arkansas Hospitals (collectively, NMC), for negligent credentialing and negligent retention after three surgeries left Mrs. Paulino unable to walk. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of NMC, concluding that, inter alia, the Medical Malpractice Act did not confer a cause of action for negligent credentialing, nor did a cause of action for negligent credentialing exist in Arkansas. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in determining that (1) the Medical Malpractice Act did not confer a cause of action for negligent credentialing; (2) there did not exist nor was it necessary to create a tort for negligent credentialing; and (3) because the nurse that monitored the surgeries was the employee of an independent contractor, NMC could not be held liable for negligent hiring, supervision, or retention of the nurse. View "Paulino v. QHG of Springdale, Inc." on Justia Law

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Teresa Broussard brought a medical malpractice action against, inter alia, Dr. Stephen Seffense and Dr. Michael Coleman, Jr. after she developed and was treated for a burn following a surgery. The circuit court entered judgment in favor of Defendants. Broussard appealed, asserting that the trial court erred in finding that Ark. Code Ann. 16-114-206(a), which requires that proof in medical malpractice cases must be made by expert testimony by medical care providers of the same speciality as the defendant, was constitutional. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the statute violated the separation-of-powers doctrine and the inherent authority of the courts to protect the integrity of proceedings and the rights of litigants. Remanded. View "Broussard v. St. Edward Mercy Health Sys." on Justia Law