Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Civil Procedure
Cleeton v. SIU Healthcare, Inc.
When he was 17 years old, Donald incurred a cervical cord injury, which left him quadriplegic. To reduce Donald’s involuntary muscle spasms, Dr. Espinosa implanted a Medtronic SynchroMed II Infusion System, a programmable pump that delivered doses of baclofen into the intrathecal space of Donald’s spine. The pump was managed by SIU Neurology and required regular refills. A routine refill went wrong, resulting in holes in the pump. Donald died days later.In a wrongful death action, the appellate court affirmed the denial of the plaintiff’s motion under the Code of Civil Procedure, 735 ILCS 5/2-402, to convert a respondent in discovery (Dr. Bakir) to a defendant. Bakir, a pulmonary critical care specialist, was Donald’s supervising physician in the ICU.The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. The plaintiff attached a certificate of merit in which a doctor opined that, within a reasonable degree of medical certainty, Dr. Bakir deviated from the standard of care. The affidavit may not have stated the specific standard of care from which Dr. Bakir deviated, but it did provide the court with sufficient information about what Dr. Bakir failed to do based upon a reasonable degree of medical certainty—timely recognize that Donald suffered from baclofen withdrawal syndrome, timely order treatment, and timely administer that treatment. The trial court mistakenly required evidence that would establish more than a reasonable probability that the defendant could be liable. View "Cleeton v. SIU Healthcare, Inc." on Justia Law
Ex parte Victor Chin, M.D., and Sportsmed Orthopedic Specialists, P.C.
Victor Chin, M.D., and Sportsmed Orthopedic Specialists, P.C. (collectively "the Sportsmed defendants"), were defendants in an action brought by their patient, Malik Woodard. Woodard alleged that, against his wishes, Dr. Chin obtained records of Woodard's prior psychological treatment. The Sportsmed defendants sought mandamus relief from: (1) the circuit court's order denying their motion to change venue based on the Alabama Medical Liability Act and the Alabama Medical Liability Act of 1987 (collectively "AMLA"); and (2) the court's order prohibiting them from using the psychological records (and certain related documents) in the case and requiring them to return or destroy those records and documents ("the protective order"). As to the venue order, the Alabama Supreme Court denied the petition because the Sportsmed defendants did not argue that the complaint did not support an inference that Dr. Chin had no medical reason for obtaining the psychological records. As to the protective order, the Supreme Court denied the petition because the Sportsmed defendants did not demonstrate that the order was subject to mandamus review. View "Ex parte Victor Chin, M.D., and Sportsmed Orthopedic Specialists, P.C." on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure, Health Law, Medical Malpractice, Supreme Court of Alabama
Mattson v. IDHW
In 2018, Terri Richardson Mattson (“Mattson”) and her husband filed this action against the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, and its employee, Laurie Gallegos, a certified physician assistant (“Defendants”), alleging medical malpractice and failure to obtain informed consent related to outpatient mental health services Mattson received from Defendants. As a part of those services, Gallegos prescribed Mattson Prozac (fluoxetine), an antidepressant. Roughly one month later, the day of her follow up appointment with Gallegos, Mattson woke up, took a firearm from her gun cabinet, went to the liquor store, bought a bottle of vodka, drank the entire bottle while driving to her follow up appointment, and when she arrived in the Department’s parking lot, fired the gun into her head. Mattson survived but suffered extensive injuries. Subsequently, Mattson and her husband filed this action. The district court granted summary judgment to Defendants on two grounds: (1) Defendants were immune from liability under the Idaho Tort Claims Act (“ITCA”) because Mattson’s claims arose out of injuries sustained while she was receiving services from a “mental health center”; and (2) the “reckless, willful and wanton conduct” exception to immunity did not apply as a matter of law. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decision that Mattson’s and her husband’s claims fell within the purview of the “mental health center, hospital or similar facility” immunity provision in Idaho Code section 6-904A(2). However, the Court reversed the district court’s decision that there was no triable jury question under the “reckless, willful and wanton conduct” exception to immunity. The Supreme Court found Mattson alleged sufficient facts at summary judgment to demonstrate that a reasonable person could find that Defendants’ acts or omissions were “reckless, willful and wanton[.]” Thus, the Court vacated the judgment and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Mattson v. IDHW" on Justia Law
Otuseso v. Estate of Delores Mason, et al.
Helen McNeal, who had been appointed administratrix of Delores Mason’s estate, brought a wrongful death claim against a physician, Dr. Eniola Otuseso. Upon learning that McNeal did not satisfy the qualifications to serve as an administratrix, Otuseso moved to intervene in the estate matter and to strike the letters of administration. The chancellor denied her motion. But the chancellor, upon learning that McNeal was not related to the decedent and that she was a convicted felon, removed McNeal as administratrix and appointed the decedent’s two siblings, who were Delores Mason’s heirs at law, as coadministrators of the estate. Otuseso appealed the chancellor’s decision to deny her motion to intervene and the decision to replace McNeal, with the decedent’s actual heirs at law. Otuseso argued she had a right to intervene in the estate matter and that the chancellor was without authority to substitute the decedent’s heirs as the new administrators. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the chancellor’s decision to substitute and appoint the decedent’s siblings and heirs as the coadministrators of Mason’s estate. Because Otuseso sought to intervene in the estate matter to challenge McNeal’s qualifications as admininstratrix, the Supreme Court found that the question of intervention was moot as it no longer was at issue, due to the chancellor’s rightful removal of the unqualified administratrix and his appointment of successor coadministrators. View "Otuseso v. Estate of Delores Mason, et al." on Justia Law
University of Mississippi Medical Center v. Kelly
In an interlocutory appeal, the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) appeals the denial of its motion for summary judgment. Vincent Kelly was injured in a forklift accident at his workplace on August 14, 2019. His left foot was crushed. Kelly was taken to Mississippi Baptist Medical Center and then was transferred to UMMC. Kelly was then evaluated and treated by an orthopedic surgeon. Upon return to UMMC, he complained of uncontrolled pain and discoloration of his third and fourth toes, which he said had turned black the previous day. UMMC orthopedic surgeon Patrick Bergin, M.D., took over Kelly’s care. The next day, Dr. Bergin performed a surgical evaluation of Kelly’s left foot and toes. Dr. Bergin determined that Kelly’s third and fourth toes were dysvascular and in need of amputation. Dr. Bergin then proceeded to amputate the two toes and obtained wound cultures, which confirmed infection. After the procedure, Dr. Bergin continued to provide care to Kelly for his wounds and infection. Kelly filed this lawsuit and a claim for medical malpractice, alleging UMMC’s physicians failed to properly treat the injury during his first visit and surgery. UMMC argued upon denial of summary judgment that Kelly’s expert witness lacked qualifications, rendering him unable to prove the required elements of medical malpractice. To this, the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed and reversed the denial of summary judgment. View "University of Mississippi Medical Center v. Kelly" on Justia Law
Kirchmeyer v. Helios Psychiatry Inc.
A patient filed a complaint concerning Dr. Dore, a Board-certified psychiatrist. The Board discovered suspected irregularities in Dore's prescription of controlled substances. Dore declined to answer questions. The Board served her with an investigative subpoena seeking medical records supporting the prescription of the controlled substances to a family member and with investigative interrogatories requesting information about the family member's treatment and employment with Dore. Dore refused to produce the records and objected to the interrogatories. Her family member objected to the subpoena.The Board sought an order compelling compliance and provided reports from the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) database. A Board-certified psychiatrist opined it was necessary to obtain the family member’s medical records to evaluate whether Dore complied with the standard of care, noting an AMA ethics opinion counseling physicians against treating family members except in emergencies. Dore's expert, a psychiatrist and licensed California attorney, disagreed with the assertion that prescribing controlled substances to family members presumptively violates the standard of care. The family member explained his reason for seeking treatment from Dore, identifying the medications she prescribed, and describing the treatment she provided.The court of appeal affirmed the trial court, which ordered compliance, impliedly concluding the Board established good cause to justify the production of the family member’s private medical information. The Board had a compelling interest in investigating Dore’s allegedly improper conduct. View "Kirchmeyer v. Helios Psychiatry Inc." on Justia Law
Carrillo v. County of Santa Clara
Plaintiff appealed from a judgment of dismissal of his medical negligence claim against Defendant County of Santa Clara, after the trial court sustained the County’s demurrer without leave to amend on statute of limitations grounds. The Second Appellate District affirmed. Plaintiff contended the trial court erred in sustaining the demurrer because the applicable statute of limitations is three years when both MICRA and section 945.6 apply, not one year. Except in circumstances inapplicable here, “any suit brought against a public entity on a cause of action for which a claim is required to be presented” must be brought within six months after the County’s rejection of the claim. The court held that, here, where both section 945.6 and MICRA apply, Plaintiff was obligated to meet the deadlines set forth in both statutes. Further, the court held the allegations of the fac do not support a delayed discovery exception to the one-year statute of limitations. Plaintiff failed in the FAC to plead specific facts to show he could not have earlier made this discovery, even with reasonable diligence. Accordingly, because Plaintiff filed his suit more than a year after his amputation, the trial court did not err in sustaining the County’s demurrer on statute of limitations grounds. View "Carrillo v. County of Santa Clara" on Justia Law
Solomon v. St. Joseph Hosp.
Plaintiff sued Defendants St. Joseph Hospital and Catholic Health System of Long Island, Inc. for injuries he sustained at St. Joseph Hospital, where he was admitted in March 2020 with COVID-19. Plaintiff brought claims for malpractice, negligence, and gross negligence in New York state court. Defendants removed the case to the New York district court and moved to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Defendants asserted state and federal immunities under the Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act (“EDTPA”) and the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (“PREP Act”). The district court denied Defendants’ motion to dismiss. The Second Circuit vacated the district court’s order and remanded with directions to remand the case to state court. The court concluded that removal to federal court was improper because the district court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case. First, Plaintiff’s state-law claims are not completely preempted by the PREP Act. Second, there is no jurisdiction under the federal-officer removal statute because Defendants did not “act under” a federal officer. Finally, Plaintiff’s claims do not “arise under” federal law. View "Solomon v. St. Joseph Hosp." on Justia Law
Beebe v. North Idaho Day Surgery, LLC
This case arose from a medical malpractice action involving a partial foot amputation and sentinel lymph node biopsy (“SLNB”). John Beebe was diagnosed with aggressive melanoma on his foot. After his diagnosis, oncology specialists recommended a forefoot amputation and a SLNB. The SLNB involved the removal of a lymph node near John’s stomach to assist the oncologist with staging the cancer. Both procedures were performed at North Idaho Day Surgery, LLC, d/b/a Northwest Specialty Hospital (“NWSH”), after which the removed forefoot was placed into a pathology specimen bag and the lymph node was placed in a specimen cup. Purportedly, both specimens were subsequently placed in a second sealed bag, which was then placed in a locked drop box at NWSH for pickup by Incyte Pathology, Inc. Two days after the surgeries, NWSH received notice from Incyte that the lymph node was missing. NWSH subsequently searched the operating rooms, refrigerators, and the dumpster, but did not find the missing specimen. The Beebes filed a complaint against NWSH for medical malpractice and negligence and against Incyte for simple negligence. They later amended their complaint to add Cheryl’s claim for loss of consortium. The Beebes appealed the jury verdict in favor of NWSH, arguing the district court erred when it granted summary judgment for NWSH and dismissed Cheryl’s loss of consortium claim prior to trial. The Idaho Supree Court vacated the jury verdict because the district court gave a “but for” jury instruction on the issue of proximate cause instead of a “substantial factor” instruction. Further, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded the district court’s grant of summary judgment and dismissal of Cheryl’s loss of consortium claim. View "Beebe v. North Idaho Day Surgery, LLC" on Justia Law
Farrag v. Thomas
Consolidated appeals arose from circuit court judgments in two identical medical-malpractice actions commenced by Cynthia Diane Dennis Thomas against Tarik Yahia Farrag, M.D. In appeal no. 1200541, Dr. Farrag appealed the trial court's judgment denying his Rule 60(b), Ala. R. Civ. P., motion seeking relief from a default judgment entered against him in case no. CV-18-2. In appeal no. 1200542, Dr. Farrag appealed from the judgment dismissing case no. CV-18-900005. On appeal, Dr. Farrag first presented an argument that was not raised in his Rule 60(b) motion -- that Patrick Hays, Dr. Farrag's personal attorney, was not authorized to accept service on Dr. Farrag's behalf and that, therefore, the default judgment was void because of insufficiency of service of process. Similarly, Dr. Farrag raised several other arguments for the first time on appeal -- specifically, that he did not receive proper notice of Thomas's filing of her application for a default judgment and that the damages awarded to Thomas were excessive. Dr. Farrag also argued he was entitled to relief from the default judgment on the basis of "excusable neglect" and that the trial court, therefore, erred in denying his Rule 60(b) motion. Dr. Farrag testified that, at the time he terminated Hays's representation of him, Hays had told him that the malpractice action had been dismissed. Dr. Farrag argues on appeal that his reliance on that purported representation by Hays constitutes excusable neglect warranting relief from the default judgment. The Alabama Supreme Court determined Dr. Farrag did not preserve his service or notice issues, and disagreed that Dr. Farrag was not prevented from appearing and defending the action due to excusable neglect. Regarding the appeal in case number 1200542, which was the dismissal of a duplicate action, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal as the judgment was in Dr. Farrag's favor. In appeal no. 1200541, the judgment denying Dr. Farrag's Rule 60(b) motion was affirmed. Appeal no. 1200542 was dismissed. View "Farrag v. Thomas" on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure, Medical Malpractice, Supreme Court of Alabama