Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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Four years after appellant-plaintiff Charlie Price filed a medical negligence/wrongful death action because his wife died from a stroke following surgery, the trial court dismissed the case for failure to prosecute. Price moved for new trial arguing that he was denied due process because he was not given adequate notice of the hearing which resulted in the trial court's dismissal of his lawsuit. The trial court denied the motion for new trial, and the Court of Civil Appeals affirmed the trial court. After its review, the Oklahoma Supreme Court held that because plaintiff was not afforded adequate notice of the hearing in which the trial court dismissed the case, due process required that the dismissal be vacated. View "Price v. Zhang" on Justia Law

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The parties to this appeal were: (1) plaintiffs in 20 separate medical malpractice lawsuits filed against two doctors and a medical spa; and (2) defendants in those lawsuits (i.e., the two doctors and the medical spa). Plaintiffs and Defendants resolved the underlying lawsuits by entering into a global settlement agreement pursuant to which Defendants agreed to pay Plaintiffs $575,000 in two installments. If the installments were not paid on time, liquidated damages would be assessed at the rate of $50,000 per month and $1,644 per day, up to a cap of $1.5 million. When Defendants failed to pay either installment, Plaintiffs moved to enforce the settlement agreement, including the liquidated damages provision. Defendants opposed the motion, arguing the liquidated damages provision was unreasonable and thus invalid pursuant to California Civil Code section 1671(b). The trial court found Defendants failed to establish the provision was unreasonable under the circumstances, and it entered judgment against Defendants in the amount of $1,393,084 (the settlement amount of $575,000 plus $818,084 in liquidated damages). Defendants appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Gormley v. Gonzalez" on Justia Law

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Premier Plastic Surgery, P.C. ("Premier") petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus directing the Jefferson Circuit Court to vacate its order denying Premier's motion for a change of venue in this medical-malpractice action brought by plaintiff Deborah Bush, and to enter an order transferring the action to the Shelby Circuit Court. Premier offered cosmetic and reconstructive surgery at its medical facility located in Shelby County. Bush went to Premier's medical facility to receive a consultation from Dr. Peter Van Hoy. It is undisputed that all of Bush's treatment by Dr. Van Hoy occurred at Premier's medical facility. In December 2017, Dr. Van Hoy died. Because he was Premier's sole shareholder, director, and owner, Premier was dissolved in September 2018. In June 2019, Bush filed suit at the Jefferson Circuit Court relating to her surgical procedure and treatment by Dr. Van Hoy. Bush's complaint also alleged that she was a resident of Jefferson County. Premier denied all allegations and argued that because the surgical procedure and treatment at issue in Bush's action occurred at Premier's medical facility in Shelby County, venue was proper in Shelby County. In her response to Premier's motion, Bush did not dispute that Shelby County was the proper venue for the action. Instead, she argued that because Premier's motion was filed almost three years after the litigation began and only three weeks before the scheduled trial, the motion cannot be deemed timely. The Supreme Court concurred that Premier's challenge to venue had been waived and denied the petition for mandamus relief. View "Ex parte Premier Plastic Surgery, P.C." on Justia Law

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The jury in this medical malpractice case awarded plaintiff Karen Cowher a lump sum amount of damages under the Pennsylvania Survival Act, and did not itemize the amount of pain and suffering damages or other components of its aggregate award. The Superior Court granted the defendants Dr. Sobhan Kodali, St. Luke’s University Health Network, and St. Luke’s Cardiology Associates a new trial on survival damages based on their claim the admission of plaintiff’s expert opinion testimony on pain and suffering was erroneous. The narrow question the Pennsylvania Supreme Court addressed in this appeal was whether defendants waived their right to a new trial under the general verdict rule. This rule applies and mandates waiver when a general verdict rests upon both valid and invalid grounds, and the litigant challenging the verdict failed to request a special verdict slip that would have clarified the basis for the verdict. The Supreme Court concluded these were the circumstances here. Accordingly, the Supreme Court held defendants waived a new trial under the general verdict rule and reversed the Superior Court’s order for a new trial. View "Estate of Cowher. v. Kodali, et al" on Justia Law

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Appellant is a severely disabled child whose congenital abnormalities went undetected during his mother’s pregnancy until after viability. Appellant sued various medical providers for wrongful life, settling with one in 2018. The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) asserted a lien on Appellant's settlement to recover what DHCS paid for Appellant's care. The trial court awarded DHCS the full amount of the lien and Appellant appealed.The Second Appellate District reversed. Although the court rejected Appellant's claim that the DHCS lien is preempted by federal law and that there is no substantial evidence that Appellant's settlement included payments for past medical expenses, the Second Appellate District found that the trial court erred by failing to distinguish between past medical expenses and other damages. View "Daniel C. v. White Memorial Medical Center" on Justia Law

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On November 4, 2016, Kernan had an External Cephalic Version (ECV) procedure to rotate her healthy 39-week fetus from a breech position. The hospital recorded the ECV as successful. Post-procedure fetal monitoring was “reassuring.” The next day, Kernan could not detect fetal movement and returned to the hospital. After an ultrasound, doctors informed Kernan that she had suffered an intrauterine fetal demise and that they could not determine the cause of death. They noted that nothing in the literature linked ECV with fetal demise. Kernan delivered a stillborn baby on November 7. The delivery doctor, Vargas, told Kernan that he could not see any indicators as to why Kernan’s baby died. Kernan eventually ordered an autopsy. After months of delay due to Dr. Vargas not responding to Kernan’s requests to review the autopsy report with her, Kernan met with Dr. Kerns on July 10, 2017, and learned that doctors had discussed her case during a morbidity and mortality conference. Kernan claims she first became subjectively suspicious of medical negligence during that meeting. On November 6, 2017, Kernan served notice of her intention to file suit. Within 90 days, she filed her negligence complaint.The court rejected the suit as time-barred under Code of Civil Procedure 340.5’s one-year limitations period. The court of appeal reversed. The hospital’s records demonstrate that reasonable minds could differ as to whether Kernan should have suspected negligent performance of the ECV on November 5, 2016. View "Kernan v. Regents of the University of California" on Justia Law

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Jana Mortensen sought treatment from Dr. Jeffrey Baker at The Healing Sanctuary, LLC, after a hysterectomy failed to resolve symptoms for ongoing pelvic pain. Mortensen alleged Dr. Baker prescribed Mortensen a 14-day course of “ozone treatment” to be self-administered intravaginally at home. Mortensen allegedly breathed in ozone gas while administering the treatment, which she alleged caused her permanent pulmonary and cardiac injuries. Mortensen filed a complaint against Dr. Baker and The Healing Sanctuary (collectively “Dr. Baker”), claiming medical malpractice. Dr. Baker moved for summary judgment, arguing that Mortensen could not prove causation. The district court conditionally granted Dr. Baker’s motion for summary judgment after finding Mortensen had not raised a genuine issue of material fact; however, the court gave Mortensen a specified time to secure expert testimony on causation. Mortensen did not comply with the deadline. The district court entered summary judgment, denying Mortensen’s second request for additional time. The district court also denied her motion to reconsider. Mortensen appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court reversed, finding the district court erred in excluding certain statements. As a result, Dr. Baker was not entitled to summary judgment because the excluded testimony created a genuine issue of material fact. View "Mortensen v. Baker" on Justia Law

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This case involved a medical-malpractice suit brought by Jalena and Brian Taylor against Jalena’s OB/GYN, Dr. Donielle Daigle, and her clinic, Premier Women’s Health, PLLC. In 2017, Jalena was admitted to Memorial Hospital of Gulfport in active labor preparing to give birth. After pushing for two and a half hours, the baby’s head became lodged in the mother’s pelvis, and it was determined that a caesarean section was necessary. Following delivery of the child, Jalena’s blood pressure dropped, and her pulse increased. The nurses worked to firm Jalena’s uterus post delivery, but she continued to have heavy clots and bleeding. Jalena was given a drug to tighten the uterus, and an OR team was called to be on standby in the event surgery became necessary. Dr. Daigle called the OR team off after Jalena’s bleeding was minimal, and her uterus remained completely firm. But Jalena’s heart rate remained extremely elevated. Dr. Daigle allowed Jalena to go back to her room, and she checked her again, and the uterus was firm. A minute or two later, Jalena sat up and felt a gush of blood. Dr. Daigle prepared to perform a hysterectomy, There was still bleeding from the cervical area, which doctors decided they needed to amputate. Even after doing so, there was still bleeding because of a laceration extending into the vagina. When the vagina was sutured and incorporated into the repair of the vaginal cuff, the bleeding finally stopped. The Taylors allege that Dr. Daigle failed to adequately treat Jalena and, as a result, she cannot have any more children. A five-day jury trial was held in January 2021, and the jury returned a twelve-to-zero verdict in favor of Dr. Daigle and Premier. On appeal, the Taylors argued the trial court committed reversible error by: (1) refusing to grant their cause challenges of patients of Dr. Daigle and Premier, thus failing to give them a right to a fair and impartial jury; and (2) failing to find a deviation from the standard of care for failing to perform a proper inspection of a genital tract laceration. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the jury verdict because it was reached on factual evidence in favor of Dr. Daigle and Premier by an impartial jury. "All twelve of the jurors agreed on the verdict, and the verdict was not against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. It should not be disturbed." View "Taylor v. Premier Women's Health, PLLC, et al." on Justia Law

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In 2018, plaintiffs Isiah and Chrishanna Smith filed a medical malpractice suit on behalf of their minor son, Mason Heath. Dr. Robert Russell, Minden Medical Center and staff, and Dr. Cristal Kirby were named defendants. The complaint alleged malpractice in connection with Mason’s circumcision performed by Dr. Russell at Minden Medical Center on August 18, 2015. Dr. Kirby subsequently treated Mason on September 2, 2015 and September 23, 2015. The child experienced complications with the circumcision site. After a second opinion, plaintiffs filed suit against Dr. Russell and the medical center. Dr. Russell and Minden Medical filed an exception of prescription, contending they only rendered care to Mason on August 18, 2015. Because the complaint was filed August 14, 2018, beyond the one-year limitation of Louisiana Revised Statutes 9:5628(A), they argued plaintiffs’ claim was prescribed on the face of the pleadings. Moreover, they urged that plaintiffs continually observed problems with the circumcision site, which required prescription steroid cream, and these facts constituted discovery, triggering prescription more than one year before the August 2018 filing. Dr. Kirby filed a separate exception of prescription. She asserted September 23, 2015 was her last contact with Mason; thus, the suit filed August 14, 2018 was prescribed on its face. Plaintiffs challenged the lower courts' ruling that their claim was prescribed. The Louisiana Supreme Court reversed, finding "plaintiffs did not sleep on their rights. They persistently cared for their child by bringing him to wellness visits and asking questions to ensure the circumcision site was properly healing. ... medical professionals assuaged their concerns and a reasonable explanation of post-circumcision healing existed. Plaintiffs filed their complaint within one year of discovery and within three years of the alleged act, omission, or neglect, making their claim timely pursuant to Louisiana Revised Statutes 9:5628(A). We reverse the granting of the exception of prescription." View "In re: Medical Review Panel of Mason Heath" on Justia Law

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Acting pro se, plaintiff-appellant Timothy Simms wanted to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit against defendant-respondent Bear Valley Community Healthcare District (Bear Valley). He appealed a judgment denying his petition under Government Code section 946.6, in which he sought relief from the requirement in the California Government Claims Act that he timely present a claim to Bear Valley before bringing a suit for damages. The Court of Appeal reversed the judgment, finding that Simms did not require relief from the claim presentation requirement because he in fact submitted a timely claim, and the trial court erred by ruling he had not done so. Although Simms’s claim was deficient in certain respects, its submission triggered a statutory duty for Bear Valley to notify Simms of the defects, and the failure to notify him waived any defense as to the claim’s sufficiency. As such, Simms should have been permitted to file a complaint. View "Simms v. Bear Valley Community Heathcare Dist." on Justia Law