Articles Posted in Delaware Supreme Court

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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