Articles Posted in Delaware Supreme Court

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A jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff Monica Broughton, in a medical negligence suit she brought in the amount of $3 million. The case was brought by Ms. Broughton individually and as parent and natural guardian of her nine-year-old son, Amari Broughton-Fleming. The injury involved was a permanent injury to Amari’s right brachial plexus that occurred during birth. Defendants are Dr. Peter J. Wong and his medical practice, Dedicated To Women, OB-GYN, P.A. argued on appeal the superior court erred: (1) when it denied their motion in limine to exclude the opinion of plaintiff’s standard of care expert, which allowed an impermissible res ipsa loquitur opinion that resulting in the jury improperly presuming negligence from the fact that an injury occurred; (2) when it denied their motion in limine to exclude plaintiff’s causation expert, which they contended lacked a proper factual foundation, and constituted an impermissible res ipsa loquitur opinion; (3) when it permitted plaintiff to elicit statistical evidence from Dr. Wong and his experts to establish the rarity of brachial plexus injuries; and (4) when it refused to instruct the jury on “Actions Taken in Emergency.” The Delaware Supreme Court concluded the first and third contentions were directly addressed by the superior court in a ruling on post-trial motions; the second and fourth contentions, which were initially raised and denied before trial, were not reargued in the post-trial motions. Therefore, the Supreme Court affirmed as to defendants' four arguments on appeal. View "Wong v. Broughton" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Amanda Norman appealed after a superior court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants All About Women, P.A. and Christine W. Maynard, M.D. in a medical negligence case. The grant of summary judgment followed an earlier ruling that the testimony of plaintiff's medical expert was inadmissible under the rules of evidence. In that ruling, the court excluded the expert’s testimony because the plaintiff failed to show that his opinions were “‘based on information reasonably relied upon by experts’ in his field.” Taking plaintiff's expert's deposition testimony as a whole, the Delaware Supreme Court found it sufficient to establish the applicable standards of care, Dr. Maynard's deviations from those standards, and injury to plaintiff caused by those deviations. As such, the Court ruled the expert's testimony admissible, reversed the superior court ruling, and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Norman v. All About Women, P.A., et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant Heather Turner appealed a superior court judgment that ruled in favor of Defendants-Appellees Michael Conway, M.D., Eric Kalish, M.D. and their practice, Delaware Surgical Group. Plaintiff sued defendants over what was initially an appendectomy, but ended with a "mass" on her liver from "something that had spilled out from prior surgeries" performed by the two doctor defendants. Plaintiff argued that the trial court abused its discretion in improperly admitting defendants' expert evidence . Upon review, the Supreme Court agreed and remanded the case for a new trial. View "Turner v. Delaware Surgical Group, P.A., et al." on Justia Law

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The issue before the Supreme Court in this case was whether the Superior Court abused its discretion by dismissing a “trip and fall” case because appellant failed to file an expert report. Appellant’s counsel did provide medical records, but insisted that a formal expert report was unnecessary because such a report would provide no additional information. "Counsel’s stubborn refusal to appreciate that an expert report had to be filed is difficult to understand." But the Supreme Court concluded that the sanction of dismissal was inappropriate under the circumstances. "The claim appeared to have merit; there was time to submit the report without impacting the trial date; and the trial court had not imposed lesser sanctions that were ignored." Accordingly, the Court reversed. View "Hill v. DuShuttle" on Justia Law

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The trial court precluded appellants’ experts from testifying at trial because they failed to provide the experts’ reports in accordance with the trial scheduling order. Without any expert testimony, appellants’ claims failed as a matter of law, and judgment was entered for appellees. But appellants had requested a conference with the trial court six months before the trial date to discuss the need to revise the scheduling order. The trial court refused to meet with counsel or change the trial date. Appellants appealed the trial court's refusal to confer, and the Supreme Court held that was an abuse of discretion: "A conference held at that point would have allowed the trial court to determine whether the circumstances justified a new trial date. If not, the trial court could have set new discovery deadlines that would have maintained the original trial date. . . . Because experience has shown that sanctions are not always effective [when counsel fails to abide by set deadlines, and to address crowded, high volume docket problems of the courts]," the Court has determined that it is necessary to refine the "Drejka" analysis. "Henceforth, parties who ignore or extend scheduling deadlines without promptly consulting the trial court, will do so at their own risk." View "Christian v. Counseling Resource Associates, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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In an interlocutory appeal of a medical malpractice action, the court considered whether a doctor owed a duty of care to a patient after the doctor referred the patient to a specialist. The patient allegedly suffered serious injuries as a result of the specialist's negligence. The court held that the referring doctor had no duty to the patient at the time of her injury and that the referring doctor's alleged negligence was not the proximate cause of the patient's injury. Accordingly, the Superior Court correctly granted summary judgment in the referring doctor's favor. View "Spicer, et al. v. Osunkoya, M.D." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against nursing home staff members alleging that defendants committed medical negligence that resulted in his father's death. A Superior Court judge dismissed the suit, stating that plaintiff's Affidavit of Merit failed to comply with 18 Del. C. 6853 because plaintiff failed to enclose a copy of the testifying expert's curriculum vitae. The court held that, since this error was procedural, a proper exercise of the trial judge's discretion would have permitted the later submission of the curriculum vitae. Therefore, the Superior Court judge erroneously dismissed the complaint. View "Dishmon, et al. v. Fucci, et al." on Justia Law